1. Nine Chambered Heart, by Janice Pariat
It’s the life of a young woman, told from the perspectives of nine people she has loved or who have loved her. The prose is exquisite, and it’s an intriguing, novel idea.
- The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam
The title is a zinger. It stuck in my head when I read it. Plus, it won the Dhaka Litfest prize, which ought to be an attestation of its merit. But there is a problem with award-winning books, and that is this: sometimes, however meritorious a contribution they are to Literature, they are simply not the sort of book one likes to read, being dull, disturbing, or some combination of the two. Or maybe I’m just embittered from having suffered through Midnight’s Children.
- Temporary People, by Deepak Unnikrishnan
I read an excerpt, and it was really good- very stirring and all that. But I read the New York Times review, and it said that the book has people turning into suitcases. I’m not sure I’m ready for people turning into suitcases in the books I read. It also compared the book to Midnight’s Children. Now maybe that’s because they unconsciously compared him with the other Indian author they know, but is that a risk I’m willing to take?
- Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, by Tishani Doshi
It’s poetry, and I like poetry, but I don’t know if I can stomach a whole book of it.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
I was too young when I started reading it the first time, which might sound odd, because it’s a children’s book, but it’s a different sort of children’s book. For one, it’s pretty profane. For another, it doesn’t sugarcoat anything- poverty, depression, bulimia. Everything is delivered with the protagonist’s trademark brand of irreverent humour.
- The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, by Hyemin
The title is extremely appealing. I never hurry up to go anywhere, to the irritation of those going someplace with me, but I’m not a callous boor who delays people either, so I don’t see what the matter is. After all, the possibility of a cyclone suddenly appearing and veering us off course is highly unlikely, and I don’t see why we must account for it. (A sudden traffic jam, on the other hand, is highly likely, but it doesn’t support my ideology, and therefore I shall stoutly deny its likelihood.) But jeez, am I out of my depth here? I’m reading for fun, not to better myself.
- How to Travel Light, by Shreevatsa Nevatia
This book is extremely well-written and interesting, which what I found when I read an excerpt in the newspaper. It can be summed up thusly: A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder is banished to a mental institution by his family. On the other hand, my tolerance for depressing/disturbing books is low, and a book about mental illness promises to be both.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The title sounds wonderful, but after having read the first few pages, I have come to the conclusion that it is extremely bizarre. The universe appears to be whimsical and highly inconsistent, and personally, I like it when all the scores tally. Still, that title is a pippin. (Wodehouse-era slang is the best kind of slang, not like the kids these days, with their woke world that is lit.)
- The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
I started reading this frightfully good book a long time ago, but various other responsibilities interfered, and I was obliged to put it away. It took me twice as long to read it, because every few pages I’d disagree with one of the characters, and so I had to write it down and tell him exactly why he was completely mistaken.
- Emma, by Jane Austen
I started loving Jane Austen after I read Pride and Prejudice, WHICH IS NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL, for heaven’s sake, I shall shake my fist at anybody who suggest that it is. Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility were both top-notch, and I look forward to reading Emma. Though I’m slightly irritated that her protagonist is once again an Attractive Lady, I don’t think it’ll disappoint.