HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week
This week’s picks include two wildly imaginative works and a thoughtful study of a great city.
THE LIAR’S WEAVE
Born into an alternate history of our world where birth charts are real and one’s life is mapped out in the stars, Zahan Merchant has a unique problem: he is born without a future. This cosmic mistake gives him an unusual power: the ability to change reality with his lies.
But there is a catch, of course. How like the Gods to build a catch.
Zahan’s older brother Sorab becomes the only one to share his secret, and help him keep it, while from afar the Greatest Astrologer that ever Lived (the Second), Narayan Tarachand, continues to quietly ponder the mystery of the child whose birth chart he couldn’t decipher. But when Zahan’s adventures with his best friend Porthos - who has his own secret - bring them to the attention of the hatadaiva, the ill fated who must bear the brunt of fates’ cruelties, his power becomes more dangerous to him and those he loves.
From a Parsi colony in early twentieth century Bombay to the urban hinterland of Vidroha, forest of outcasts, Tashan Mehta ‘s debut novel transports the reader to an India both familiar and strange, where the consequences of magic on reality can e wondrous yet heartbreaking. *
THE DEMON HUNTER OF CHOTTANIKKARA
Deep within the peaceful land of Kerala lies a small village called Chottanikkara that is infested with horrifying demons - towering brahmarakshasas, former priests who have become demons after committing abominable sins; kollivaipei, devils that have torches of fire in place of mouths; mohini pisaacha who seduce men by taking the form of beautiful women, and sucking the breath out of their victims; vethaalam who cling to the backs of those they prey on, making them hunch over in agony; jalapisaacha who lurk in old, disused wells waiting for unsuspecting humans to dive into the water so they may possess them... All these demons crave the sweet blood of humans and their herds of cattle, goats and chickens. The only defence the terrified villagers have against these monsters is Devi, a demon hunter skilled in all the arts of war and exorcism. Every time the demons creep out of their accursed haunts, she and her faithful companion, an enormous lion called Ugra, hunt them down ruthlessly. Until now. For a creature out of her worst nightmares is spreading terror throughout Chottanikkara, a monster so evil and powerful that it is immune to every weapon and magic art that Devi possesses... Part supernatural thriller, and part horror story, The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara announces the arrival of a ferociously gifted storyteller. *
THE EPIC CITY: THE WORLD ON THE STREETS OF CALCUTTA
“Everythign that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta.” And yet, after completing his education in the States, Kushanava Choudhury embodied his parents’ greatest fears by returning to the city they had escaped for a better life. Arriving with grand plans, the flaws in which could not be detected while making them in the States, Choudhury returned to live in a city of concrete, mildewed buildings, political graffiti , frustrated jobless men arguing with the newspaper headlines, a city abandoned by an entire generation, a city of inescapable, ubiquitous grime. The Epic City is the result of Choudhury sifting through the chaos and decay for those stories that never make headlines, that don’t fall into any reporter’s beat - a soulful, insightful , meticulously researched and often very funny portrait of a world unto itself.*
*Taken from the book flap