In My Hands Today…

Lajja: Shame – Taslima Nasrin

The Duttas – Sudhamoy, Kironmoyee, and their two children, Suranjan and Maya – have lived in Bangladesh all their lives. Despite being part of the country’s small Hindu community, that is terrorized at every opportunity by Muslim fundamentalists, they refuse to leave their country, as most of their friends and relatives have done. Sudhamoy, an atheist, believes with a naive mix of optimism and idealism that his motherland will not let him down…

And then, on 6 December 1992, the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in India is demolished by a mob of Hindu fundamentalists. The world condemns the incident but its fallout is felt most acutely in Bangladesh, where Muslim mobs begin to seek out and attack the Hindus… The nightmare inevitably arrives at the Duttas’ doorstep – and their world begins to fall apart.

In My Hands Today…

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery – Amitav Ghosh

From Victorian lndia to near-future New York, The Calcutta Chromosome takes readers on a wondrous journey through time as a computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that will forever change his life. When Antar discovers the battered I.D. card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into a spellbinding adventure across centuries and around the globe, into the strange life of L. Murugan, a man obsessed with the medical history of malaria, and into a magnificently complex world where conspiracy hangs in the air like mosquitoes on a summer night.

In My Hands Today…

The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

In The Moor’s Last Sigh Salman Rushdie revisits some of the same ground he covered in his greatest novel, Midnight’s Children. This book is narrated by Moraes Zogoiby, aka Moor, who speaks to us from a grave in Spain. Like Moor, Rushdie knows about a life spent in banishment from normal society–Rushdie because of the death sentence that followed The Satanic Verses, Moor because he ages at twice the rate of normal humans. Yet Moor’s story of travail is bigger than Rushdie’s; it encompasses a grand struggle between good and evil while Moor himself stands as allegory for Rushdie’s home country of India. Filled with wordplay and ripe with humor, it is an epic work.

In My Hands Today…

The Inscrutable Americans – Anurag Mathur

An engaging look at the clash of Indian culture and an America that is both harsh and exhilarating to a smart but naive foreigner, Gopal arrives in America from a small town in India prepared for study but decidedly unprepared for the cultural differences he encounters. This delightful novel chronicles the religious, vegetarian Gopal’s comic adventures and misadventures in the land of hot dogs, Coca-Cola, neon lights, and explicit advertising.

Gopal’s frequent frustration with the language and his shocked reaction to certain curious American customs are amusing and pertinent. From his first rude encounter with an alarm clock that sends him ducking for cover to his blushing mishap with his appropriately named American friend Randy, Gopal’s experiences prove to be a lesson for all on the often contradictory customs of America and Americans.

Through his battles with sometimes subtle racism, his own insecurity, and his family’s directive that he will be severely judged should he dabble in America’s enticements, Gopal retains a gentle dignity and surprising shrewdness, arousing the affection of friends, colleagues, teachers, and most of all, readers.

In My Hands Today…

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857 – William Dalrymple

On a hazy November afternoon in Rangoon, 1862, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave in a prison enclosure. As the British Commissioner in charge insisted, “No vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.”

Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, an accomplished poet and a skilled calligrapher. But while his Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, the aged Zafar was king in name only. Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, he nevertheless succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history.

Then, in 1857, Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops, thereby transforming an army mutiny into the largest uprising any empire had to face in the entire course of the nineteenth century. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj’s Stalingrad: one of the most horrific events in the history of Empire, in which thousands on both sides died. And when the British took the city—securing their hold on the subcontinent for the next ninety years—tens of thousands more Indians were executed, including all but two of Zafar’s sixteen sons. By the end of the four-month siege, Delhi was reduced to a battered, empty ruin, and Zafar was sentenced to exile in Burma. There he died, the last Mughal ruler in a line that stretched back to the sixteenth century.

Award-winning historian and travel writer William Dalrymple shapes his powerful retelling of this fateful course of events from groundbreaking material: previously unexamined Urdu and Persian manuscripts that include Indian eyewitness accounts and records of the Delhi courts, police and administration during the siege. The Last Mughal is a revelatory work—the first to present the Indian perspective on the fall of Delhi—and has as its heart both the dazzling capital personified by Zafar and the stories of the individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.

In My Hands Today…

The Lotus Palace (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #1) – Jeannie Lin

It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China…

Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she’s content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress—until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.

Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang’s position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine—will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?