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Spring Shelf

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The days are getting hotter but thankfully so are the books this year. Here are our picks of five largely Indian titles out in the months of March and April that should be on your reading list.

The Writer’s Eye
William Dalrymple
You’ve seen the award-winning author pick up the camera and weave black-and-white poetry with it. Now, his photo-essays come alive in the form of a compelling compilation in print. Powerful and precise, the pictures in The Writer’s Eye are documents of landscape, conveying potent solitude and brooding strokes. Dalrymple returns to a visual medium he first worked with in his college days, armed now with over two decades of writerly composure and brilliance. 

The Kiss of Life
Emraan Hashmi, co-authored by Bilal Siddiqui
Penguin RandomHouse
In a moving memoir, actor Emraan Hashmi recalls how a New Year vacation with his family ended up in the hospital when his son started showing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a rare kidney cancer. He talks about the emotional pain involved in cancer, the psychological trauma that the parents have to go through, and how it was tearing the family apart. ‘It is true that children give birth to fathers,’ he observes. 

Before We Visit the Goddess 
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Simon & Schuster India
Chitra, a two-time Pushcart prize winner and the author of Mistress of Spices that was later adapted to a major film, captures in this book the gorgeous complexity of multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas. The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgiveable misstep. 

Love, Loss and What We Ate
Padma Lakshmi
A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi's unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera, and spills some dark secrets about her relationship with author Salman Rushdie. A memoir with sensual prose, it is alive with the scents, tastes, and textures of a life that spans complex geographies both internal and external.

Deep Singh Blue
Ranbir Singh Sidhu
Unnamed Press
A Pushcart Prize winner, debut novelist Ranbir takes us into the heart of another America, and into the lives of "the other Indians--the ones who don't get talked about and whose stories don't get written”. Deep Singh wants out—out of his family, out of his city, and more than anything, out of his life. His parents argue over everything and his brother, who hasn't said a single word in over a year, suddenly turns to him one day and tells him to die. So when Lily, a beautiful, older, and married, woman, shows him more than a flicker of attention, he falls heedlessly in love. It doesn't help that Lily is an alcoholic, hates her husband, and doesn't think much of herself, or her immigrant Chinese mom either. As Deep's growing obsession with Lily begins to spin out of control, the rest of his life seems to mirror his desperation—culminating in his brother's disappearance and an unfolding tragedy. 

Compiled by Soumya Mukerji


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