In My Hands Today…

The Assassin’s Song – M.G. Vassanji

1664732In the aftermath of the brutal violence that gripped western India in 2002, Karsan Dargawalla, heir to Pirbaag – the shrine of a mysterious, medieval sufi – begins to tell the story of his family. His tale opens in the 1960s: young Karsan is next in line after his father to assume lordship of the shrine, but he longs to be “just ordinary.” Despite his father’s pleas, Karsan leaves home behind for Harvard, and, eventually, marriage and a career. Not until tragedy strikes, both in Karsan’s adopted home in Canada and in Pirbaag, is he drawn back across thirty years of separation and silence to discover what, if anything, is left for him in India.

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In My Hands Today…

Beneath My Mother’s Feet – Amjed Qamar

3124412“Our lives will always be in the hands of our mothers, whether we like it or not.”

Nazia doesn’t mind when her friends tease and call her a good beti, a dutiful daughter. Growing up in a working-class family in Karachi, Pakistan, Nazia knows that obedience is the least she can give to her mother, who has spent years saving and preparing for her dowry. But every daughter must grow up, and for fourteen-year-old Nazia that day arrives suddenly when her father gets into an accident at work, and her family finds themselves without money for rent or food.

Being the beti that she is, Nazia drops out of school to help her mother clean houses, all the while wondering when she managed to lose control of her life that had been full of friends and school. Working as a maid is a shameful obligation that could be detrimental to her future — after all, no one wants a housekeeper for a daughter-in-law. As Nazia finds herself growing up much too quickly, the lessons of hardship that seem unbearable turn out to be a lot more liberating than she ever imagined.

In My Hands Today…

The Supper Club – Sophie King

4629842A travelling supper party—held in a different house every month—seems like the perfect way for village neighbours to socialise. Lucy wants to introduce new fiancé Mike to her neighbours, and getting out in the evening might help friend Chrissie to focus on something other than that baby. Maybe Lucy can even do a little matchmaking for her sister Jenny, and it’s also the perfect excuse to meet the fashion model who’s stolen her friend Maggie’s husband. Of course, the supper parties don’t quite work out the way Lucy meant them to.

In My Hands Today…

Broken Moon – Kim Antieau

715579Nadira is spoiled goods. Scars from a beating she received for a crime that her older brother allegedly committed tell the world that she is worth less than nothing – except to her little brother, Umar, who sees beauty in her scars and value in her.

But Umar is gone – perhaps kidnapped or maybe sold. All Nadira knows is that Umar has been taken into the desert to ride camels for rich sheikhs. He could be lost to her forever.

For Umar, Nadira will risk everything. So she disguises herself as a boy and searches out the men who took him. They are not hard to find, and soon she, too, is headed to the desert to be a camel jockey.

Life in the desert is more brutal than Nadira imagined. All she has to protect her and the boys she meets are a bit of chai tea, some stories, and the hope that she has enough of both to keep going until she finds Umar.

In My Hands Today…

Beginner’s Luck – Laura Pedersen

464001“There could be no doubt left in anyone’s mind that my life had all the makings of a country-and-western song.”

The second of seven children (with another on the way), Hallie Palmer has one dream: to make it to Vegas. Normally blessed with an uncanny gift for winning at games of chance, she’s just hit a losing streak. She’s been kicked out of the casino she frequents during school hours, lost all her money for a car on a bad bet at the track, and has been grounded by her parents. Hallie decides the time as come to cut her losses.

Answering an ad in the local paper, she lands a job as yard person at the elegant home of the sixty-ish Mrs. Olivia Stockton, a wonderfully eccentric rebel who scribes acclaimed poetry along with the occasional soft-core porn story. Under the same wild roof is Olivia’s son, Bernard, an antiques dealer and gourmet cook who turns out mouthwatering cuisine and scathing witticisms, and Gil, Bernard’s lover, whose down-to-earth sensibilities provide a perfect foil to the Stocktons’ outrageous joie de vivre. Here, in this anything-goes household, Hallie has found a new family. And she’s about to receive the education of her life.

In My Hands Today…

Bone China – Roma Tearne

3283531Grace de Silva, the wife of the shiftless but charming Aloysius, has five children and a crumbling marriage. Her eldest son, Jacob, wants desperately to go to England. Thornton, the most beautiful of all the children and his mother’s favourite, dreams of becoming a poet. Alicia wants to be a concert pianist. Only Frieda has no ambition, other than to remain close to her family. But civil unrest is stirring in Sri Lanka and Christopher, the youngest and the rebel of the family, is soon caught up in the tragedy that follows. As the decade unfolds against a backdrop of increasing ethnic violence, Grace watches helplessly as the life she knows begins to crumble. Slowly, this once happy family is torn apart as four of her children each make the decision to leave their home. In London, the de Silvas are all caught in a clash between East and West …

In My Hands Today…

Divorce Islamic Style – Amara Lakhous

12377095It’s 2005. The Italian secret service has received intel that a group of Muslim immigrants based in the Viale Marconi neighbourhood of Rome is planning a terrorist attack. Christian Mazzari, a young Sicilian who speaks perfect Arabic goes undercover to infiltrate the group and to learn who its leaders are. Christian poses as Issa, a recently arrived Tunisian in search of for a job and a place to sleep. He soon meets Sofia, a young Egyptian immigrant dressed in a burqa who lives in the neighborhood with her husband Said, a.k.a. Felice, an architect who has reinvented himself in Italy as a pizza cook.