Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
Savitribai Indorekar, born into an orthodox Hindu family, elopes with her Muslim lover and accompanist, Ghulaam Saab, to pursue a career in music. Gentle, strong-willed Leela, on the other hand, gives her life to the Party, and to working with the factory workers of Bombay.
Fifty years after these events have been set in motion, Madhu, Leela’s niece, travels to Bhavanipur, Savitribai’s home in her last years, to write a biography of Bai. Caught in her own despair over the loss of her only son, Aditya, Madhu tries to make sense of the lives of Bai and those around her, and in doing so, seeks to find a way out of her own grief.
Murder in Steeple Martin – Lesley Cookman
Artist and ex-actress Libby Sarjeant is busy directing a play for the opening of a new theatre in her village when one of her cast is found murdered. The play, written by her friend Peter, is based on real events in his family, disturbing and mysterious, which took place in the village during the last war. As the investigation into the murder begins to uncover a tangled web of relationships in the village, it seems that the events dramatised in the play still cast a long shadow, dark enough to inspire murder. Libby’s natural nosiness soon leads her into the thick of the investigation but is she too close to Peter’s family, and in particular, his cousin Ben, to be able to recognise the murderer?
The Genizah at the House of Shepher – Tamar Yellin
A scholar, returning to her family home in Jerusalem becomes embroiled in a family dispute over a discovered Codex, brought home originally her great-great grandfather. Set against the backdrop of a hundred and thirty years of change, this is a novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land.
Friendly Fire: A Duet – A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman
A couple, long married, are spending an unaccustomed week apart. Amotz, an engineer, is busy juggling the day-to-day needs of his elderly father, his children, and his grandchildren. His wife, Daniella, flies from Tel Aviv to East Africa to mourn the death of her older sister. There she confronts her anguished seventy-year-old brother-in-law, Yirmiyahu, whose soldier son was killed six years earlier in the West Bank by “friendly fire.” Yirmiyahu is now managing a team of African researchers digging for the bones of man’s primate ancestors as he desperately strives to detach himself from every shred of his identity, Jewish and Israeli.
Cooking with Fernet Branca – James Hamilton-Paterson
Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany, where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions — including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter, herb-based liqueur of the book’s title.
Gerald’s idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former soviet republic. A series of hilarious misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity.
The Love Wife – Gish Jen
The Wongs describe themselves as a “half half” family, but the actual fractions are more complicated, given Carnegie’s Chinese heritage, his wife Blondie’s WASP background, and the various ethnic permutations of their adopted and biological children. Into this new American family comes a volatile new member.Her name is Lanlan. She is Carnegie’s Mainland Chinese relative, a tough, surprisingly lovely survivor of the Cultural Revolution, who comes courtesy of Carnegie’s mother’s will. Is Lanlan a very good nanny, a heartless climber, or a posthumous gift from a formidable mother who never stopped wanting her son to marry a nice Chinese girl?
The Fourth Treasure – Todd Shimoda
Tina Suzuki has just begun her first year of graduate study. Born and raised in San Francisco by her Japanese immigrant mother, Tina knows nothing about the rest of her family and very little about her cultural heritage. But when her boyfriend’s Japanese calligraphy teacher suffers a stroke, loses his ability to communicate, but continues to create magnificent calligraphic art, Tina knows she has stumbled across an ideal research subject. Getting people to cooperate with her research is an entirely different matter. The blank personal history presented by her mother is in fact, a tightly wound scroll full of scandalous secrets. Tina’s studies lead to revelations about her own family – secrets she would never have expected. Juxtaposed with Tina’s story is that of the stricken calligraphy teacher as a young man in Kyoto, and the history of the ancient inkstone he carries with him.