Helium – Jaspreet Singh
On November 1st 1984, a day after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a nineteen-year-old student travels back from a class trip with his mentor and chemistry teacher, Professor Singh. As the group disembark at Delhi station a mob surrounds the professor, throws a tire over him, douses him in gasoline and sets him alight.
Years later the student, Raj, is compelled to find his professor’s widow, the beautiful Nelly. As the two walk through the misty mountains of Shimla, Nelly comes up against a nation in denial, Raj faces the truth about his father’s role in the Sikh massacre and they both find the path leads back to the train station. Jaspreet Singh crafts an affecting and important story of a largely untouched moment in Indian memory.
The Perfect Son – Barbara Claypole White
From a distance, Felix Fitzwilliam, the son of an old English family, is a good husband and father. But, obsessed with order and routine, he’s a prisoner to perfection. Disengaged from the emotional life of his North Carolina family, Felix has let his wife, Ella, deal with their special-needs son by herself.
A talented jewelry designer turned full-time mother, Ella is the family rock…until her heart attack shatters their carefully structured existence. Now Harry, a gifted teen grappling with the chaos of Tourette’s, confronts a world outside his parents’ control, one that tests his desire for independence.
As Harry searches for his future, and Ella adapts to the limits of her failing health, Felix struggles with his past and present roles. To prevent the family from being ripped apart, they must each bend with the inevitability of change and reinforce the ties that bind.
In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India – Edward Luce
India is poised to become one of the world’s three largest economies in the next generation and to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2032. Well before then India’s incipient nuclear deterrent will have acquired intercontinental range and air, sea and land capabilities. India’s volatile relationship with its nuclear-armed neighbour, Pakistan, may prove to be the source of the world’s next major conflict. And if you call anyone- from your bank to rail enquiries- your query may well be dealt with by a graduate in Gujarat. Any way one looks at it, India’s fate matters. Edward Luce, one of the most incisive and talented journalists of his generation, assesses the forces that are forging the new nation. Cutting through the miasma that still clouds thinking about India, this extraordinarily accomplished book takes the measure of a society that is struggling to come to grips with modernity. Drawing on historical research, existing literature and his own unparalleled access as the New Delhi-based, South Asia correspondent of the FT, this is a book that will enthral as well as educate and will remain the definitive book on the country for many years.
No Fullstops In India – Mark Tully
India’s Westernized elite, cut off from local traditions, ‘want to write a full stop in a land where there are no full stops’. From that striking insight Mark Tully has woven a superb series of ‘stories’ which explore Calcutta, from the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad (probably the biggest religious festival in the world) to the televising of a Hindu epic. Throughout, he combines analysis of major issues with a feel for the fine texture and human realities of Indian life. The result is a revelation. ‘The ten essays, written with clarity, warmth of feeling and critical balance and understanding, provide as lively a view as one can hope for of the panorama of India.
….while a reader lives multiple lives…sometimes over a single weekend!
Leading you from darkness to light…
Inside the O’Briens – Lisa Genova
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.
It Happened in India – Kishore Biyani, Dipayan Baishya
Born in a middle class trading family, Kishore Biyani started his career selling stonewash fabric to small shops in Mumbai. Years later, with the launch of Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Central and many more retail formats, he redefined the retailing business in India. Incidentally, Kishore Biyani s objective is to capture every rupee in the wallet of every Indian consumer, wherever they are – an investment banker living in a south Mumbai locality or a farmer in Sangli. As large business houses enter the retail space, Kishore Biyani is not just concentrating on retail but aiming to capture the entire Indian consumption space. From building shopping malls, developing consumer brands to selling insurance, he is getting into every business where a customer spends her money.
The Jade Temptress (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #2) – Jeannie Lin
Welcome to the infamous Pingkang Li—home of the celebrated Lotus Palace courtesans, and a place of beauty and treachery…
Charming and seductive, Mingyu is the most sought-after hostess in the pleasure quarter. She has all men wrapped around her finger—except Constable Wu Kaifeng, the one man she can’t resist, the only man to have placed her in chains.
Wu Kaifeng’s outwardly intimidating demeanor hides a reluctant, fierce attraction to beautiful Mingyu. But the passionate temptation she presents threatens to destroy them both when a powerful official is murdered and they find themselves on a deadly trail. Amid the chaos, a forbidden affair could change Mingyu’s fate forever, for following her heart is bound to have consequences…
Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil – Deborah Rodriguez
Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.
With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.
Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.
With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.
Sikander – M. Salahuddin Khan
It’s 1986 and Ronald Reagan’s commitment to the anti-Soviet mujahideen of Afghanistan is resolute. Meanwhile, 17 year-old Pakistani student, Sikander, yearns for the freedom of his tribal brethren in neighboring Afghanistan, and that leads him to admire everything American but more directly, to want to study and live in America.
When a heated quarrel stemming from a naive indiscretion about his parents’ financial woes provokes Sikander into leaving the comfort of his upper-middle class home, events lead to his being thrust into the very heart of the Afghan resistance.
Between fighting the Russians and living among the mujahideen villagers, Sikander meets Rabia, the independent, uneducated, but sharp-witted niece of his Afghan mentor and he begins to have feelings her. After two years, aided by long-awaited American Stinger missiles, Sikander and the mujahideen prevail. Amid the euphoria of victory and the prospects for peace Sikander and Rabia cement their love in marriage.
With the war over, Sikander decides its time he and his new bride head back to Pakistan for a reconciliation with his family. To their delight he is welcomed back as a long missed, war hero and the couple settle in with his now financially recovered family.
Years pass, and Sikander prospers in the family business, while feeling though never fulfilling his desire to move to America. But then a bitter civil war rages in neighboring Afghanistan that results in the rise of the Taliban and with it, an unraveling of Rabia’s family. Things get far worse when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes, and aided by Rabia’s pleadings Sikander feels compelled to make the perilous journey across the border to persuade her family to come back with hm and away from the conflict. He manages to find them and lead them to the relative safety of Pakistan but not without himself being placed on collision course with the country of his dreams – America.