- Me & My Shelf
Janice Pariat's Top 10 Reads
Janice Pariat is the author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories. In 2013, she won the Young Writer Award from Sahitya Akademi and the Crossword Book Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel, The Nine Chambered-Heart, is being translated for publication into nine languages.
The Days Of Abandonment By Elena Ferrante, Translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa, Rs 899. I am not a big fan of Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, but I do love her early novels. A simple book, no doubt, but look at what Ferrante does with language. This book taught me how closely voice, psychology and words work.
The Awakening By Kate Chopin, Penguin English Library, Rs 299. Condemned as ‘morbid, vulgar and disagreeable’ when it appeared in 1899, Chopin’s The Awakening is now firmly ensconced within the canon of early feminist literature. I love it for its unexpectedness, its quiet radicalism.
UTZ By Bruce Chatwin, Penguin Books, Rs 1,151. A novella following the varied fortunes of Kaspar Utz who lives in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. It works as a parable about our fascination with the beautiful and the power that art can have over us.
Things I Don’t Want To Know By Deborah Levy, Penguin, Rs 691. This is the first part of Levy’s ‘living autobiography’ series—a stark, honest writing on the politics of womanhood and what it means to be a ‘woman writer’ in the world. I keep going back to this series every so often for its bravery and resilience. A response to George Orwell’s famous essay, Why I Write, this book encompasses Levy’s own reflections on (a woman’s) writing life.
The Cost Of Living By Deborah Levy, Penguin, Rs 499. The second part is more of a manifesto for what Levy calls “a new way of living”, as she realigns herself and her writing to the life of a single mother in a smaller but “just so much bigger” house.
Until The Lions: Echoes From The Mahabharata By Karthika Nair, HarperCollins India, Rs 799. Nair retells the Mahabharata through the voices not usually heard in epic stories—of women, outcasts, unnamed foot soldiers, through poetry that is incandescent, and technically brilliant. I adore its spirit of rebelliousness and experimentation.
The Vegetarian By Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith, Random House, Rs 550. This three-part novella has stayed with me ever since I read it in 2016. The otherwise simple premise uses vegetarianism as the entry point into a beautiful, disturbing story that is both serene and violent.
Wilful Disregard By Lena Andersson, Translated by Sarah Death, Picador, Rs 707. This book about unrequited love reveals Andersson to be a master of the miniscule and the captor of moments where we fail so atrociously to combat desire.
Acts Of Infidelity By Lena Andersson, Translated by Saskia Vogel, Picador, Rs 917. In the sequel to Wilful Disregard, Nilsson falls madly in love with a married man, who makes no secret of it all. This is craft coupled with exceptional intelligence.
The Book I Loved the Most
Wild: An Elemental Journey By Jay Griffiths, Penguin Books, Rs 797. This utterly breathtaking book, which I savoured for over two months, takes you on an extraordinary journey, forcing you to recognize the deep and tender connections between human ‘civilization’ and the wild.