We recommend: The best new book releases
The best of new fiction
Fool Me Twice by Nona Uppal: Instagram famous has finally written her much awaited romantic-comedy novel. The story follows Sana’s love story with Ashish until he tragically passes away due to a drunk-driving accident. This is not a spoiler, we promise! The book now moves to a place where Sana—being a 20-year-old—navigates grief, loss and looks at the complexity of falling in love 'again' at an age where most are falling for the first time. (February 14)
Fourteen Days by Margaret Atwood: Margaret Atwoord and Douglas Preston put together a novel consisting of stories set during Covid-19 lockdown, written by different big names from the literary world. The book is about the residents of Fernsby Arms, an apartment building in Manhattan who start gathering at the rooftop in the early days of the pandemic to spend their time. Soon, the residents start sharing stories with each other day after day, and develop a bond amidst a global crisis. You will not know which author wrote which story as you read the book, and that makes it all the more worthwhile. (February 6)
Reviews for the book are mixed. The Guardian notes that this novel is an “immensely enjoyable product of an immensely unenjoyable time” but The Telegraph (UK) isn’t too impressed and says while “there are few gems from young writers, it’s mostly a self-indulgent mess”. (February 6)
Red River by Somnath Batabyal: This book follows three boys in Assam during the early years of militancy in the 1980s and how their lives and relationships pan out into adulthood. The novel moves through Guwahati, Dhaka, Bhutan and London and looks at how the shadows of the violence in the 1980s continue to haunt and affect the relationships and lives of these three friends. (February 1)
The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo: From the New York Times best-selling author Yangsze Choo—best known for ‘The Night Tiger’—this is a historical-drama set during the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty who was a controversial figure and saw her end at the wake of the bloody Boxer Rebellion in 1908.
The novel uses magical realism and tells a tale about shape-shifting fox spirit named Snow who is hunting for her daughter’s killer. Snow’s predicaments offer an elegy for the empire and the downfall of the empress. Kirkus calls it: “An intriguing vulpine mystery worth the suspension of disbelief.” (February 13)
Book of Doors by Gareth Brown. This is a contemporary fantasy novel about Cassi Andrews, a bookseller in New York. She lives a modest and ordinary life until one day, an old man—a customer—dies in the bookstore and leaves behind an enigmatic book, the Book of Doors.
She’s approached by Drummond Fox, a librarian who watches over Special Books: rare books that contain magical powers, the Book of Doors is one of them. This book changes the direction of her life. She is now on the hunt from book collectors who are even willing to kill as long as they can obtain different volumes of the Special Books. What follows is a mysterious and a magical adventure into the world of unknown books. (February 13)
This month’s poetry pick
Bless the Blood by Walela Nehanda: This novel is both a poetry collection and a memoir where Walela Nehanda, a black and disabled queer, shares their experience of being diagnosed with leukaemia in their early twenties. Walela,writes with searing honesty about discrimination, their life through cancer and the agonising healthcare system that they had to navigate. (February 6)
The best of the non-fiction list
We, The Citizens: Strengthening the Indian Republic by Pranay Kotasthane, Khyati Pathak and Anupam Manur. Engaging with public policy is often seen as boring and difficult because of the jargon involved. In this graphic novel, the authors and the artist make it easy to digest the abstract concepts of public policy in an Indian context. If you’re curious about how the Indian State functions, and what it means to be an engaged citizen of our country, definitely read this. (February 5)
Last to Eat, Last to Learn: My Life in Afghanistan Fighting to Educate Women by Pashtana Durrani: This memoir is by a girl who was raised in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan where her father, a tribal leader, founded a community school for girls within their home. This book follows the difficult choices Pashtana had to make—Oxford University or living in Afghanistan, for instance—her commitment to education and human rights.
The reviews are good. Kirkus describes this book as a “lovingly narrated, sharply nuanced memoir from a talented activist” and what is noteworthy is that she is “equally comfortable analyzing Afghanistan’s gender inequity and defending the strengths of the oft-underestimated culture and country she loves.” (February 20)
The Demolition,The Verdict and The Temple: The definitive book on the Ram Mandir Project by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. Journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay focuses on one of the most important moments of modern India History—the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and its culmination into the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya which opened on January 22 this year.
This book looks at all the events that led to the demolition of the masjid in 1992 and chronicles the Ayodhya saga. Mukhopadhyay looks at some fundamental questions on how the Ram Temple will change things in our country and what this means for the BJP? You can also pair this with our Big Story on the Ram Mandir inauguration. (February 5)