Champaca's Book of the Month
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.
Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast by Samanth Subramanian, is a collection of nine essays, through which we are taken on a journey along the Indian coast. Travelling from West Bengal in the east to Gujarat in the west, Subramanian shows us the different relationships people have with fish. Although the essays deal with history, religion, food and culture, the central theme remains a constant. The book also brings to our attention the difficulties local fishermen face due to the advent of modern technology and large-scale fishing.
‘Following Fish’ is our September pick for the fourth edition of 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 are reading books translated from Farsi, Norwegian, Swedish or Japanese. Reading translations gives us a glimpse into different cultures, voices, and experiences. There’s a wide range of incredible writing coming to us in these four languages across fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We love picking prompts that encourage multiple possibilities. Read on for our recommendations.
‘Out’ by Natsuo Kirino
Out is a story about a murder—of a man by his wife. It is also a story about sisterhood, friendship and the women who help their friend cover up the crime. It looks at the lives of five women who work at a Bento box factory, in the suburbs of Tokyo, and their everyday struggles. Does the murder make their lives worse, or does it bring out a different facet of their personalities? ‘Out’ was a sensation when it was first released in Japan, not only for its riveting style but its scathing portrayal of the intersection between patriarchy, capitalism and the lives of women in Japan.
‘The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree’ by Shokoofeh Azar
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the midst of post-revolution chaos and brutality that sweeps across the country and its people. It opens in 1988 with a mother’s grief-driven epiphany at the top of a “greengage plum tree”, over the death of her children – a son who is hanged for holding political beliefs, and a daughter who is burned in a cellar. Banned in Iran and translated from Farsi by a person whose name was withheld for security reasons, ‘The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree’ was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020.
‘Scenes From a Childhood’ by Jon Fosse Damien Searls
Written by Jon Fosse, Norway's celebrated writer and playwright, and translated from Norwegian by Damien Searls, Scenes from a Childhood is a collection of five pieces of short fiction written between 1987 and 2013. In the title work, we are presented with a loosely autobiographical narrative, made up of multiple shards of memory covering infancy to awkward adolescence. The collection also contains Fosse's haunting and dream-like novella And Then My Dog Will Come Back for Me, along with his first published story, `Him', written in 1981. Music, death and childhood are some of the oft-repeated themes in this collection.
Life at Champaca
How has the monsoon been treating you? Despite the rain playing havoc, we were thrilled to welcome fresh blooming Champaca flowers at our store and harvest avocados from the tree next door. In August, we have lined up a set of exciting events - from book launches to storytelling, including a cyanotype workshop—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 some cold ginger ale or a hot cup of coffee, as per the whims and fancies of the ever-changing Bangalore weather!