Champaca’s Book of the Month: A Very Jerry Christmas
Editor’s note: We feature the brilliant recommendations of our partner, the Champaca Bookstore, in the Read section twice a month. FYI: Champaca is an independent women-run and founded bookstore and children's library in Bangalore.
‘Indian Christmas’ by Jerry Pinto
Indian Christmas edited by Jerry Pinto and Madhulika Liddle is a heartwarming anthology of essays, memories, poems and hymns that showcase the spirit of Christmas. The writers tell us about their relationships and memories of Christmas: baking Christmas cake in an ammunition box, preparing pakwan that begins a few weeks before Christmas day, and the realisation that Santa is not real.
The book explores the myriad ways in which Christmas is observed and cherished in different parts of India, whether in snowy Shimla, the bustling streets of Mumbai, the vibrant traditions of Kerala, or the quiet corners of Goa. We really enjoyed reading Christmas carols in Punjabi translated into English, a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, and a Christmas prayer.
Indian Christmas is our November pick for the fourth edition of our Champaca Book Subscription—where we are reading and curating boxes around the annual theme of ‘Reading India’. Join us and be part of a community of book lovers!
A fine collection from our shelves
Are you reading with us in the Champaca Reading Challenge? We’ve put together a list of prompts designed to help us, and you, read widely and more diversely. This month, we’re reading books that are set in France, Afghanistan and Australia! We wanted to pick three countries from across the world, where we could travel through books. You can choose one of these, or even all three! Here are some of the ones we love:
‘Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone’ by Benjamin Stevenson. Ernie Cunningham is a teacher and crime fiction aficionado. Three years ago, Ernie witnessed his brother, Michael, kill a man and immediately alerted the police. This was a betrayal that no one in his well-known crime family could forgive. His relatives shun Ernie but they are all now gathered at the Sky Lodge Mountain Retreat to welcome Michael back into the family after the release from prison.
However, on the eve of Michael's release, the body of a man is found frozen on the slopes. While most assume the man simply collapsed and died of hypothermia during the night, Ernie and his step-sister Sofia spot a strange detail—the man's airways are clogged with ash. He appears to have died by fire in a pristine snowfield, without a single burn mark. ‘Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone’ is a gritty and fast-paced race to find out if Ernie can discover whether one of his family is a serial killer before his whole family ends up dead.
‘Of Fangs and Talons’ by Nicolas Mathieu. Before Nicolas Mathieu won the Prix Goncourt in 2018 for And Their Children After Them he wrote this novel about small towns, crime and friendship. After the closure of a small-town factory is announced, the local community is hit by the prospect of mass unemployment. With nothing left to lose, the desperate workers take matters into their own hands.
Martel, a former trade union rep, and Bruce, a bodybuilder on steroids, resort to extreme measures—after an attempted kidnapping goes horribly wrong, they are dragged into a spiralling frenzy of crime. In the political tradition of Balzac and Zola, ‘Of Fangs and Talons’ announces Nicolas Mathieu as one of the most urgent contemporary voices in French literature.
‘A House Without Windows’ by Nadia Hashimi. Zeba is a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Zeba becomes the suspect when she is not able to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act but Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demand justice.
Imprisoned and awaiting trial Zeba meets other women whose misfortunes have led them to the same prison. For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment; removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood. ‘A House Without Windows’ is a moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women.
Life at Champaca
In November, from book launches to crafty workshops, we have an exciting line-up of events—check them out here! If you’re in Bangalore, we invite you to come to our lush, leafy store, attend the events and browse through our shelves with cold tender coconut water/ a hot cup of coffee, as per the whims and fancies of the ever-changing Bangalore weather!