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.
Reading South Asia
Oh the places you’ll go… with books! Hop on for a reading tour with Champaca— around beautiful South Asia via essays, memoirs, novels, short stories, nonfiction, cookbooks, graphic novels and even a picture book!
What fun is a trip if it doesn’t begin with food? ‘Let's Make Ramen’ is a fun hybrid cookbook comic that details the history of the dish while giving more than 40 accessible ramen recipes to make—including weeknight bowls, weekend project stocks, and other delicious instructions. What makes this book delightful are the colourful illustrations sprinkled with humorous insights, personal anecdotes, and dollops of history.
This 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. ‘Out’ by Natsuo Kirino 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.
Unfortunately, it's hard to think of Sri Lanka without mulling over the civil war. Though there have been many books, we highly recommend this comprehensive and well-written account by Samanth Subramanian. This work of narrative non-fiction investigates the ghosts of the war while drawing out the story of modern Sri Lanka, an exhausted, deeply divided, and disturbed society still caught in the embers of war.
In this unusual biography of the place, Rabi Thapa visits ‘Thamel’, the commercial and cultural heart of Kathmandu. While revisiting this haunt of his youth, Thapa uncovers the history of Kathmandu and pieces together the story of its inhabitants—glue-sniffing children, people working in brothels, and entrepreneurs looking to make it big. What emerges is a finely detailed portrait of a place that is not only a vibrant but an ever-evolving reflection of the social mores of Nepal as a whole.
‘Lifelines’ is a collection of short stories by young female writers from Bangladesh. Their stories portray multifaceted characters trying to take control of their own destinies, challenging stereotypes that portray the country as nothing more than poor and underdeveloped. While some of the stories are set in Bangladesh, others occur against the backdrop of expatriate communities.
Sokcho is a tourist town on the border between North and South Korea. The narrator, an unnamed woman of French-Korean descent and receptionist at a guesthouse, meets a French cartoonist who comes to town seeking inspiration. The uneasy relationship between the two forms the backdrop of ‘Winter in Sokcho’ by Elisha Shua Duspain, a novel about shared identities, alienation, and intimacy.
It’s 2028, a biographer embarks on the task of chronicling the story of a political luminary, Babu. But what unfolds is the story and journey of a country. ‘Babu Bangladesh’ by Numair Atif Choudhary is an entertaining story of our closest neighbours.
Mehr Tarar brings us a searing account of modern-day Pakistan in this book. Divided into 5 sections, the book contains essays on themes of religious persecution, profiles of famous Pakistanis, connections with India, personal narratives of family and friends and the lives of everyday Pakistanis. ‘Do We Not Bleed’ is an honest portrayal of our brethren across the border.
Beautifully illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavah comes this poetic ode to the seasons. Set in haiku-inspired poetry, this picture book views the world through the eyes of a child—from spring to summer, autumn to winter.
Life at Champaca
At Champaca, this month has been a time for reflection and stock-taking. After hosting action-packed events with authors, and poetry workshops, we spent time planning for the future at our annual Champaca planning meet. These meets give us the much-needed space to reflect and chart our journey ahead. Through a combination of meetings, and freewheeling, fun exercises we revisited our values and chalked up our goals for the upcoming year, and we are very excited. If you’re in Bangalore, we invite you to come to our lush, leafy store and browse through our shelves with cold tender coconut water.