As the year draws to a close, we pick some of best titles that made the cut. Some like Jhumpa Lahiri and Khaled Hosseini are famous names while others are less known. However, all the stories are just as engaging. Read on.
The Mirror of Beauty
by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
Premise: A fictionalised account of the life of Wazir Khanam (the mother of the well-known 19th century Urdu poet Daag Dehalvi) set in Delhi. And how the beauty courts Mughal noblemen, British officers of the East India Company and others to her advantage.
What you should know about it: This is an English translation of Faruqi’s 2006 Urdu novel, Ka’i Chand The Sar-e-Aasmaan.
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Premise: Subhash and Udayan, two inseparable brothers grow up in Calcutta in the ’60s. But their bond is broken with the Naxalbari movement, which Udayan chooses to become a part of. Subhash, on the other hand, leaves for America and returns at the news of Udayan’s death. He marries his brother’s pregnant wife, Gauri, and takes her to America. The rest of the book is about how Gauri comes into her own.
What you should know about it: It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, which went to Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries instead.
And The Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
Premise: A collection of nine interconnected stories, all but one either set in Afghanistan or about Afghans, woven into a novel moving back and forth between time and geographical locations. The book begins with the brutal separation of a 10-year-old impoverished village boy Abdullah from his three-year-old sister Pari, who is adopted by a rich, childless couple, the Wahadatis in Kabul; two cousins who had moved to America return for a visit and struggle with mixed emotions; a little boy grapples with the realisation that his father is a druglord…
What you should know about it: That Hosseini was on the cover of Brunch earlier this year.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
by Neil Gaiman
Premise: The narrator returns to his hometown in Sussex and visits the farm of Lettie Hempstock, a girl he used to know when he was seven. They used to call her duck pond, "ocean" and while looking at this ocean, he is flooded with memories of what had once been magic – the dark things that had happened 40 years ago, his nanny who was actually a "thing", a monster from the other world. And only the Hempstocks can save them all.
What you should know about it: It will remind you of Coraline, Gaiman’s 2002 horror/fantasy novella for young adults. In fact, without one tiny sex scene, this is easily PG-13.
The Hope Factory
by Lavanya Sankaran
Premise: Anand is the owner of a small car factory, a self-made man who married well, and is now trying to make it even bigger. But his marriage is falling apart and he has to compete with cheaper Chinese manufacturing. Kamala is the family’s domestic help who wants her 12-year-old son to uplift their lives with a good education. But he’s keeping bad company. In this book are the parallel stories of their hopes and aspirations set in a transforming Bangalore.
What you should know about it: The struggles in the book have been compared to Dickens’ works.
Compiled by Saudamini Jain
From HT Brunch, December 22
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