When the world fell apart last year and life seemed hazy, one thing remained constant and comforting: books.
Even in the age of Netflix-and-chill, there’s nothing like a good book that promises happiness and satisfaction — whether curled up in bed or in your favourite coffeehouse. Here, we bring you five books we’re eagerly looking forward to in the coming months.
By Many A Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life by M Hamid Ansari (Rupa Publications)
By Many a Happy Accident is an account of a life of unplanned happenings that took M. Hamid Ansari away from his preferred fancy for academia to professional diplomacy and then be co-opted in public life and catapulted to the second-highest office in the land for two consecutive terms. None of his predecessors, except Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, had experienced this honour. Besides chairing the Rajya Sabha and shedding interesting light on some of its functional aspects, Ansari used the vice presidency as a formidable pulpit to express himself candidly on a range of issues at different times in India’s changing political landscape. Their overarching theme was the need for modern India to re-commit itself to the constitutional principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, to the values of a composite culture, and for correctives in polity relating to identity, security and empowerment of the weaker segments of our society.
Sach Kahun Toh by Neena Gupta (Penguin Random House India)
This deeply intimate account of award-winning actor Neena Gupta’s extraordinary personal and professional journey will be published in the summer of 2021. The memoir will chronicle her childhood days in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, through her time at the National School of Drama, moving to Bombay in the 1980s and dealing with the struggles to find work. It will detail the big milestones in her life, her unconventional pregnancy and single parenthood, and successful second innings in Bollywood. A candid, self-deprecating portrait of the person behind the persona, it will talk about her life’s many choices, battling stereotypes, then and now, and how she may not be as unconventional as people think her to be.
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (Hamish Hamilton)
After almost a decade, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri is coming up with new book this year. Whereabouts, slated for a June release, is Lahiri’s first novel written in Italian and translated to English. Much like her last novel The Lowland (2013), Whereabouts centres around a woman and her journey which assumes dazzling proportion as the novel proceeds. Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit.
The Nutmeg’s Curse: A Parable for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh (Penguin Random House)
The climate-change crisis has had limited reflection in literary fiction but writer Amitav Ghosh has been among the few who have long engaged with it extensively, in both his fiction and non-fiction work. This book, slated for publication in October, is based on the Campbell Lectures that Ghosh will deliver at the Rice University in the US in September. In it, Ghosh follows the nutmeg’s journey across the world to reflect on the trajectory of exploitation of both human resources and nature, made possible by the existing geopolitical hierarchy.
China Room by Sunjeev Suhota (Hamish Hamilton)
From the Booker Prize finalist, a captivating novel of love, oppression, trauma and the pursuit of freedom, inspired in part by the author’s own family history. In his new novel, slated to be published in June, Suhota goes back to 1929 agrarian Punjab, where a young bride, married off one night along with two other young women to three brothers of a family, is trying to find out who her husband is. China Room twines together the stories of a woman and a man separated by more than half a century but united by blood.