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.
Champaca’s Book of the Month
This month, as we thought about loneliness and connection, we thought about finding connection through a place, a home.
Sonal Kolhi’s debut novel, ‘The House Next To The Factory’, brings us a distinct portrait of a family and the house they live in across three decades. Set in Delhi, the book consists of nine interlinked stories—each telling the story of a different occupant of the house. Through tutors, secret lovers, cousins, and various other characters, we witness the family’s steel business bloom, and their transition from middle-class to elite. With each story, the house takes on a different role, becoming a character of its own—one that must hold the grief, loneliness, conflicts, and aspirations of its occupants.
As we read this story of a post-Partition immigrant family, we found it to be a thoughtful, extraordinary examination of the idea of home, migration, class, and connection. Join us by signing up for the Champaca Book Subscription to receive ‘The House Next To The Factory’ in a curated book box at your doorstep.
A fine selection 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 a book that is a retelling of a fairy tale or a myth! Read on for our recommendations.
Circe: by Madeline Miller. A stellar retelling of the myth of the goddess of magic, Circe—a witch who must chart her way through a man's world. Circe is a woman who has always lived in the shadows, but as she begins to nurture her skills in magic and witchcraft, she discovers a growing power and resilience within herself.
The Forest Of Enchantments: by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. In a retelling of the Ramayana, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel. She raises important questions about how women are treated by their lovers, and also sheds light on the stories of other women in the epic like Kaikeyi and Surpanakha, who are often misunderstood. We have signed copies of this book at Champaca!
The Giant Dark: by Sarvat Hasin. A loose retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. At the heart of the book is a complicated love affair, stained by secrets and jealousy, that explores the destructive effects of viewing a lover as a muse.
Life at Champaca: Our store has been bustling and busy this month. We launched our reading challenge for 2023, with brand-new prompts. You can pick one book (or more!) for each prompt, and get cracking on the list. It’s an exciting list and we hope you discover many new and interesting books through it. We’ve also made it easier for you to keep track of your progress with our Reading Challenge notebook! In other news, we have a new piece up on our blog by Shakti. In it, she writes what it is like to work at a bookstore and also recommends some books that give us a glimpse into the lives of booksellers.
If you’re in Bangalore, we invite you to come to our lush, leafy store and browse through our shelves with a warm cup of coffee. And as always, you can find us, our book recommendations, and keep up with our upcoming events, on our website, Instagram, and Twitter!