Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting“ in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi’s “most-everything girl” — will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
Fasting, Feasting – Anita Desai
A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejuices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating. In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US. or both.
Uma, the plain, older daughter still lives at home, frustrated in her attempts to escape and make a life for herself. Her Indian family is difficult, demanding but mostly, good hearted. Despite her disappointments, Uma comes through as the survivor, avoiding an unfulfilling marriage, like her sister’s or a suicidal one, like that arranged for her pretty cousin.
And in America, where young Arun goes as a student, men in the suburbs char hunks of bleeding meat while the women don’t appear to cook or eat at all – seems bewildering and terrifying to the young Indian adolescent far from home.
Cut Like Wound – Anita Nair
It is the first night of Ramadan. At Shivaji Nagar in the heart of Bangalore, a young male prostitute is killed and burnt alive. It would have stayed as yet another unsolved murder, but for Inspector Borei Gowda, the investigating officer.
As bodies begin to pile up one after the other, and it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the prowl, Gowda recognizes a pattern in the killings which no one recognises Even as he negotiates serious mid-life blues, problems with his wife and son, an affair with an ex-girlfriend, and official apathy and ridicule, the killer moves in for the next victim…
Monsoon Memories – Renita D’Silva
Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London.
Memories of her childhood – exotic fragrances, colours, stifling heat and tropical storms – fill Shirin with a familiar and growing ache for the land and the people that she loves.
With the recollections, though, come dark clouds of scandal and secrets. Secrets that forced her to flee her old life and keep her from ever returning.
Thousands of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames.
Determined to solve the mystery of an aunt she never knew, Reena’s efforts will set in place a chain of events that expose the painful trauma of the past and irrevocably change the path of the future.
The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky – Manan Kapoor
Kashmir — 1991
In between the insurgency and the exodus, Inayat finds solace in the company of Gul, a Kashmiri pundit, and Aaqib. She blooms under the eyes of her father, Maqbool — an alcoholic poet, and her mother — Wahida, who is fraught with sanguinity. They spend their days listening to The Doors in Gul’s backyard and attending Shakes-Peer’s English lessons at the school. However, as they leave behind their childhood, they realise that the future holds things for them that they have never even imagined.
Inayat comes face to face with loss as bereavement engulfs Kashmir. The echoing of the machine guns, the wails of her loved ones and the silence that she is bequeathed with is all that is left. The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky is the story of a skirmish with life and the perseverance in the dark times
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure – Sarah Macdonald
In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India—and for love—she screamed, “Never!” and gave the country, and him, the finger.
But eleven years later, the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah’s life is posted to India, she quits her dream job to move to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. For Sarah this seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love, and it almost kills her, literally. Just settled, she falls dangerously ill with double pneumonia, an experience that compels her to face some serious questions about her own fragile mortality and inner spiritual void. “I must find peace in the only place possible in India,” she concludes. “Within.” Thus begins her journey of discovery through India in search of the meaning of life and death.
Holy Cow is Macdonald’s often hilarious chronicle of her adventures in a land of chaos and contradiction, of encounters with Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, Sufis, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and a kaleidoscope of yogis, swamis and Bollywood stars. From spiritual retreats and crumbling nirvanas to war zones and New Delhi nightclubs, it is a journey that only a woman on a mission to save her soul, her love life—and her sanity—can survive.
The Mine – Arnab Ray
At a secret mining facility somewhere in the deserts of Rajasthan, an ancient place of worship, with disturbing carvings on its dome, is discovered buried deep inside the earth. Soon the miners find themselves in the grip of terrifying waking nightmares. One tries to mutilate himself. Worse follows.
Five experts are called in to investigate these strange occurrences. Sucked into a nightmare deep underground, they embark on a perilous journey; a journey that will change them forever, bringing them face-to-face with the most shattering truth of them all…
The greatest evil lies deep inside.