Get ready for a fantastic literary adventure this holiday season! We’ve handpicked some amazing reads that will take you on journeys with interesting characters and spellbinding stories. Whether you love stories about families, historical adventures in India, or modern tales of love and strength, our holiday reading list has it all. So, grab a cozy spot, and a warm drink, and let these Holiday Reads add a touch of magic to your holiday season!
Written in Sudha Murty’s inimitable style, Common Yet Uncommon is a heartwarming picture of everyday life and the foibles and quirks of ordinary people. In the fourteen tales that make up the collection, Sudha Murty delves into memories of childhood, life in her hometown and the people she’s crossed paths with. These and the other characters who populate the pages of this book do not possess wealth or fame. They are unpolished and outspoken, transparent and magnanimous.
Their stories are tales of unvarnished humans, with faults and big hearts.
In ‘The Boundary’, one family vacations in the Roman countryside, though we see their lives through the eyes of the caretaker’s daughter, who nurses a wound from her family’s immigrant past. In ‘P’s Parties’, a Roman couple, now empty nesters, finds comfort and community with foreigners at their friend’s yearly birthday gathering-until the husband crosses a line.
These are splendid, searching stories, written in Jhumpa Lahiri’s adopted language of Italian and seamlessly translated by the author and by Knopf editor Todd Portnowitz.
Exquisitely translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur, Sakina’s Kiss is a delicate, precise meditation on the persistence of old biases—and a rattled masculinity—in India’s changing social and political landscape. Ingeniously crafted, Vivek Shanbhag interrogates the space between truth and perception in this unforgettable foray into the minefield of family life.
‘Everyone bowed to the Big Man. He was glorified, deified even, with temples raised to him, as the embodiment of the nation.’
Now the Big Man is gone, with nobody named as his successor. Into this void is pushed Mira, who is reluctant at first but increasingly interested in the position she finds herself in. Will she use her authority to further her agenda, or will she hold on to her principles? Watched by her political rivals, Jayeshbhai and Swamiji, and guided by well-wishers Ayesha, Prabhu and Du Bois, she marches on and discovers something about power-and about herself.
The eight stories of this collection are about unforeseen terrors and adventures, surreal comedies, the apocalypses and the sublime poetry of everyday life. A disgruntled trucker sets out to kill his rival, ending up as the saviour of migrant workers trapped by a pandemic. A novice jailor breaks the law only to learn that nothing in this world is beyond pardon. A corpse dressed immaculately in a suit is discovered on a beach, the trail of the suspects stretching across continents in casinos and cruise ships. The nude paintings of a dead artist set the stage for a murder in a gallery. Hunt for a terrorist leads to a dangerous game of luring a prey out of its lair using a human bait. A man finds himself as the sole passenger of an airplane flying from one deserted airport to another. An innocent shopkeeper learns the wisdom of the Mahabharata on the verge of losing his innocence.
In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for the Goddess, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – literally ‘victory city’ -the wonder of the world.
The Patient in Bed Number 12 is a remarkable novel framed as a confession from parent to child, from child to parent. In this profoundly moving exchange, secrets long buried tumble out, mysterious and dreamlike: a grieving mother finds solace in a newspaper photograph; a ghost comes to life in an abandoned fridge; children fill empty jars with the night’s darkness; a young couple plan how to seek permission for their love; and three men with a phone camera turn a family’s world upside down.
All of Kali and Ponna’s efforts to conceive a child-from prayers to penance, potions to pilgrimages-have been in vain. Despite being in a loving and sexually satisfying relationship, they are relentlessly hounded by the taunts and insinuations of the people around them. Ultimately, all their hopes and apprehensions come to converge on thechariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara and the revelry surrounding it. Everything hinges on the one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couple’s suffering and humiliation.But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test. Acutely observed, One Part Woman lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.
HE GALLERY pursues the question of what it takes for a woman to stand up for herself, through the intertwined lives of Minal and Ellora Sahni, wife and daughter of a successful New Delhi lawyer, and Maitrye and Tashi, wife
and daughter of the office peon at the Sahni law practice. In her new novel, Manju Kapur brings together themes of independence, identity and womanhood by focusing on a set of principal characters who are connected through work and physical proximity, yet separated by class and power.
When Kaya meets and falls deeply in love with a fellow activist from the very religious community the country is actively trying to erase, her twin purposes are miraculously aligned in an intoxicating combination that she becomes immediately fearful of losing. In the midst of spirited protests and rising violence, Kaya bears witness to vast human suffering while experiencing profound joy. It is time to make a choice. Kaya knows if she chooses love this time, she will betray everything she has claimed to believe in. If she is willing to do that, can Kaya truly be loved by the person she most desires?
Drawing on ancient records and historical sources, and weaving it with fiction and mythology, Shyam Selvadurai creates a vivid portrait of Yasodhara, a remarkable woman on a remarkable journey. Mansions of the Moon is an evocative, thought-provoking novel and a must-read for anyone interested in spirituality, mythology and the power of the human spirit.
Welcomed by other storytellers, Shagun thrives-easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women-and embraces a life on the move, far from his father’s clutches. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father’s ever-present threat to send him to a conversion center. As Shagun’s past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and to boldly claim his own happiness.
Set in 1990s India, The Sea Elephants is an utterly immersive and spellbinding novel, both dark and beautiful, harrowing and triumphant. An ode to the redemptive joys of storytelling, Shastri Akella’s soulful debut is a celebration of hard-won love-of others and for ourselves.
Soft Animal unfolds in urgent present tense with illuminating flashbacks, whip-smart dialogue and conspiratorial footnotes. Bringing the deftness of deadpan humour and the precision of meticulous social observation to the self-delusions of India’s privileged urban middle class, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s latest channels an uncomfortably-and sometimes heartbreakingly-intimate experience of millennial marriage that is seldom portrayed but all too real.
Sonora Jha has created a complex character both in tune and out of step with our time, an erudite man who first inspires and then challenges our sympathies. As the novel reaches its shocking conclusion, Jha compels us to re-examine scenes in a new light, revealing a depth of loneliness in unlikely places, the subjectivity of innocence, and the looming peril of white rage in America.
An explosive and tense work of fiction, The Laughter is a fascinating portrait of privilege, radicalization, class, and modern academia that forces us to confront the assumptions we make, as both readers and as citizens.