Top Picks From Ira Mukhoty's BookShelf
In books such as Daughters of the Sun and Heroines, Ira Mukhoty made apparent her love for feminist narratives in Indian history and mythology. Released earlier this month, her first novel, Song of Draupadi, helps further that abiding affection for strong, radical women.
BY TONI MORRISON, RHUK, `499
Having been brought up on a diet of Anglo-Saxon writers, reading this electrifying and startling novel entirely changed the way I thought about the written word. Morrison’s innovative and almost disturbing use of language to describe the haunting of a black American woman by the ghost of her daughter is a literary tour de force. The flavour of this book stays with you your whole life.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
BY GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, Penguin India, `399
A novel that almost single-handedly defined the genre of magic realism, Márquez’s labyrinthine novel describes the vicissitudes of the Buendia family in the mythical town of Macondo. In prose that is breathtaking and fantastical, and with an imagination that combines lyricism and lunacy, Márquez conveys the chaos and beauty of human life. To beread with caution.
The God of Small Things
BY ARUNDHATI ROY, Penguin India, `450
Arundhati Roy’s novel may not have aged particularly well, but when I read it 25 years ago, I was mesmerized by her luminous prose and her fastidious attention to detail, almost like a seam-stress spinning a rainbow gown. A disturbing love story shackled by a sense of foreboding and disquiet.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
BY EIMEAR MCBRIDE, Faber & Faber, `899
This debut novel by Irish writer Eimear McBride is almost beyond categorization. The author uses a stream-of-consciousness style to tell the story of a young Irish girl who lives with a brother suffering from a brain tumour. In prose that is as fractured and full of seams as the brother’s scars, this is a haunting tale of love and pain.
H is for Hawk
BY HELEN MACDONALD,Random House, `499
When Cambridge research scholar,writer, falconer and naturalist Helen Macdonald found herself devastated by grief over the sudden death of her father, she decided to train a goshawk as a way to sublimate her sorrow. She produced a book which is at once a memoir, a falconry manual and a heartbreaking meditation on loss—all interspersed with gorgeous descriptions of nature.
BY HILARY MANTEL, Fourth Estate, `499
The first—and best—of Hilary Mantel’strilogy about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell at the court of Henry VIII is a masterclass in historical fiction. From the first paragraph, the reader is pulled into the 16th-century world of Cromwellwith all its violence and splendour. The book is spotlit by the brilliant prose and attention to detail that Mantel brings to all her work.
BY MAGGIE O’ FARRELL, Tinder Press, `699
This re-imagined story of Shakespeare focuses entirely on his wife Agnes,and the terrible tragedy suffered by the couple when they lose their 11-year-old son, Hamnet. Interestingly, Shakespeare is almost entirely missing in the book, reduced to just a pronoun and descriptor—‘he’, ‘husband’. The story is filled with foreboding but is told in rich, luminous prose. The story of Agnes, entirely forgotten by history, is mesmerizing.
After the Prophet
BY LESLEY HAZLETON,Anchor, `799
A lucid and engaging account of the great rift that gave rise to the Sunni–Shia branches of Islam and continues to violently divide Muslims. Hazleton brings to life with great vividness the terror- and grief-rid-den events that occurred immediately after Prophet Muhammad’s calamitous death before he could name a successor, which led to the schism that haunts the Islamic world even today.
A Strange and Sublime Address
BY AMIT CHAUDHURI, Penguin India, `299
Tales from Firozsha Baag
BY ROHINTON MISTRY, Faber & Faber, `499
Both these books, written only a few years apart from each other, marked the rise of Indians writing in English with more panache, confidence and style than ever before. Both these books are deeply anchored in the keenly noted reality of Indian cities—Calcutta and Bombay—and are eloquent testimonies to their grace and beauty, but also the violence and chaos of everyday lives.