Karuna Ezara Parikh's Favourite Reads

Karuna Ezara Parikh has hosted travel shows, modelled, worked with NGOs and as a journalist for 15 years before she moved to Kolkata to write her first novel, The Heart Asks Pleasure First, which released late last year to rave reviews.

—Compiled by SHREEVATSA NEVATIA Published Mar 14, 2021 18:46:57 IST
Karuna Ezara Parikh's Favourite Reads Nayantara Parikh

The History of Love  By NICOLE KRAUSS, Penguin, Rs 600

“Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, they parted with leaves in their hair. Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” Every page of this novel is a story unto itself. Sometimes a single paragraph or line holds the weight of an entire book. It is also my favourite story about the Holocaust.


Wilderness BY JIM MORRISON, Vintage, Rs 599

This was the collection of poetry that unfroze the form in the mind. I understood I did not have to write in rhyme, or within any kind of confines. I could simply bring together two words so that they clanged, so that they bled, and that too could be poetry.


Jitterbug Perfume BY TOM ROBBINS, No Exit Press, Rs 1,179

Published the year I was born, I think maybe we are soul siblings, this book and I. Robbins is always a ride, but this novel is wilder than most of his, and yet, rounded. From New Orleans to Paris to ancient Arcadia, from the great god Pan to shamans, perfumers and a particular vegetable—it’s impossible to say more without saying everything.


The Stories of Eva Luna BY ISABEL ALLENDE, Scribner, Rs 399

It was Allende, and not one of the big men of magic realism, who gave the genre a space wedged deep in my heart. These short stories are masterful, both robust and delicate, but always delicious—like iron latticework across a red-lit window.


Anna Karenina BY LEO TOLSTOY, Penguin Classics, Rs 350

My favourite of the classics by far. I think what surprised me most was how gloriously current it felt.


Maps for Lost Lovers BY NADEEM ASLAM, Random House India, Rs 599

There are few writers on earth with more grace, and his second, celebrated novel—though not my favourite of his works—was most important in propelling my writing, and the way I viewed the world.


Voices from Chernobyl BY SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH, Dalkey Archive Press, Rs 2,346

I presumed this would be a list of fiction because my non-fiction would run dramatically long, but this book crept its way here. The Nobel Prize winner’s work is inexplicably evocative and I found myself weeping over these stories, told as quiet secrets, from a time the world chose to forget.


The God of Small Things BY ARUNDHATI ROY, Penguin India, Rs 450

Yes, this book is beautiful, but I place it here for what it taught me about structure and the art of storytelling. About what to reveal, when and how, and of course about “who should be loved and how and how much”.


Just Kids BY PATTI SMITH, Bloomsbury, Rs 1,133

I’m reading this right now and while I haven’t finished yet, I’m going to put it on the list because it has brought back to my heart everything that made me want to write—Kerouac and Dylan and rock ‘n’ roll and Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Test and Ken Kesey and Rimbaud.


The English Patient BY MICHAEL ONDAATJE, Everyman, Rs 599

A measured masterpiece, I suspect I will read this over years and years, again and again, to try unravel its remarkable beauty, its slow revealing plot, its mis-en-scène and faithfulness to history, to love, but most of all, to art.


Book prices are subject to change.

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