Karan Mahajan Picks Out 10 Books He Loved

Karan's The Association of Small Bombs is amongst The New York Times Book Review's 'Ten Best Books of 2016' and has also been shortlisted for the 2016 National Book Awards in the US.

Karan Mahajan Updated: Jun 9, 2020 17:45:15 IST
Karan Mahajan Picks Out 10 Books He Loved

Karan Mahajan's The Association of Small Bombs (Rs 499, Fourth Estate) is amongst The New York Times Book Review's 'Ten Best Books of 2016' and has also been shortlisted for the 2016 National Book Awards in the US. His first book Family Planning (Rs 399, HarperCollins India) was a finalist for the 2010 International Dylan Thomas Prize. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Believer, n+1, among others.

Half A Life (V. S. Naipaul, Picador, Rs 399)

Many Naipaul purists despise this book, but this was the first example of his transcontinental power I encountered and it knocked me flat. It has such a sad ending!

The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen, Fourth Estate, Rs 750)

Structured like a brainy TV show, this novel showed me how to embed politics within a family drama.

The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy, Penguin India, Rs 450)

Sultry and tropical as Ayemenem may be, this book never mildews or ages; its prose retains the glee and vigour of childhood and the wisdom that comes from intense noticing.

Herzog (Saul Bellow, Penguin UK, Rs 350)

This is a long howl of a book by the smartest American writer of the 20th century.

Humboldt's Gift (Saul Bellow, Penguin UK, Rs 539)

This Pulitzer-winning book is like a Cadillac: boisterous, flamboyant, fast and filled with unbelievable passengers.

This Is Not That Dawn (Yashpal, Penguin India, Rs 654)

A huge and urgent political novel about Partition published only a dozen years after the event, in Hindi—and detail by detail, the greatest Indian novel ever written.

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway, Random House UK, Rs 399)

This book on expat life in Paris is 90 years old, yet it couldn't be more youthful. Hemingway's famous style allows him to be romantic without being precious. Is there a better description of flirting anywhere else in literature?

The Puttermesser Papers (Cynthia Ozick, Atlantic Books, Rs 650)

Mystical, exquisitely painted, alternately realist and magic-realist, this linked short-story collection smashes through categories to exalt one of the most indelible characters in American letters, Ruth Puttermesser.

The Museum of Innocence (Orhan Pamuk, Faber, Rs 499)

Sometimes novels are audacious for how long they linger on a single thought or image; this grand novel about a man's obsession with his lost love in Istanbul is one of them.

The Painter of Signs (R. K. Narayan, Indian Thought, Rs 124)

The great poet of sweet yet thwarted love is the Indian master, R. K. Narayan. In this novel, he portrays a hapless painter's love for a family-planning activist, and shows us, how, as humans, we freely invite loss into our lives.


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