Top picks from Nisha Susan's bookshelf

Writer, editor and journalist Nisha Susan is the co-founder of two media companies, The Ladies Finger and Grist Media. She is the author of The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories, and has recently translated K. R. Meera’s acclaimed novella Qabar from Malayalam to English.

Team RD Updated: Feb 15, 2023 14:53:53 IST
Top picks from Nisha Susan's bookshelf Photo: Paromita Vohra

Passionate Minds:Women Rewriting the World BY CLAUDIA ROTH PIERPONT, Knopf, Rs 2,071

I love essay collections and Pierpont writes about literary women as vastly different yet same-same as Mae West, Mary McCarthy, Margaret Mitchell, Zora Neale Hurston and Hannah Arendt.

The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch BY SANAM MAHER, Aleph, Rs 599

A book about the Pakistani social media star who was murdered by her brother (and the world) should be just plain depressing. Instead, it is moving, elegant and passionate.

The Daughter of Time BY JOSEPHINE TEY, Random House UK, Rs 755

Some people think what we want from crime fiction is grit. What we really want from crime fiction is style.It could be in flourishes like trench coats or it could be in the uncompromising whip-me-baby relationship that Tana French establishes with her readers. Or it could be like Josephine Tey who only writes wonderful sentences and has a bored policeman stuck in a hospital bed solve a historical mystery using art. Talk about style.

The Absent Traveller:Prakrit Love Poetry from The Gathasaptasati of Satavahana Hala BY ARVIND KRISHNA MEHROTRA(TRANSLATOR), Penguin India, Rs 199

Back when The Absent Traveller was out of print, a friend gouged out a dozen copies from a warehouse and bestowed a copy to a deserving candidate. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s translation of these ancient Prakrit erotic poems is one of those books I feel gratitude for. Thank you for existing!

The Oxford India Ramanujan BY A. K. RAMANUJAN,OUP India, Rs 11,995

I saved up in my 20s to buy the luxurious The Oxford India Ramanujan and it is still one of my favourite collections.It’s got all the great translations of Sangam poetry and vachanas and also Ramanujan’s own work which is sexy, witty and deeply satisfying.

Dime Store Magic BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG, Orbit, Rs 599

I will read anything by Kelley Armstrong. Nearly all of her fantasy novels have caused me to abandon work and purpose for the day and fall right into whatever breathless adventure she has written. Dime Store Magic is one of my favorites.

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood BY ANNE ENRIGHT, Vintage, Rs 475

Prose like poetry. The tragic knowledge of motherhood. Heart filled with black comedy. A scene with crutches will remind you how ridiculously inadequate the current edition of human child-birth is. We need a system update.

An Experiment in Love BY HILARY MANTEL, Fourth Estate, Rs 550

Let me say that when Margaret Atwood, bleak-eyed feminist of theNorth American continent, reviewed this slim ‘campus novel’, she said,Book prices are subject to change.“‘Enter the Dragoness’ might be a more likely title, for this is a story about emotional kung-fu, female style—except that by the end,although all are wounded or worse,there’s no clear winner.” All true,but take it from me: I hate bleak fiction but this one will just make you bloodthirsty.

When the Time is Right BY BUDDHADEVA BOSE, Penguin India, Rs 550

I am a huge fan of this Buddhadeva Bose book (translated into English by Arunava Sinha)which tells the story of Swati who comes of age in Kolkata just before Independence. When I tell people that there is an important scene set in a Chinese restaurant, everyone immediately gets the feel of it.

The Idiot BY ELIF BATUMAN,Vintage, Rs 499

Another coming-of-age novel set, for most part,in Harvard in the 1990s.Batuman wrote this fat,magical novel in which nothing much happens, everything feels huge the way it did when you were 19, and somehow turns the tedium of all that into fiction that is never tedious. I was awed. Someone had written a novel that runs the risk of never being seen for how brilliant it was because she makes it look so easy.


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