A Man Called Ove
A heartwarming tale of friendship, love, loss and pain. Written by Fredrik Backman, the book is about a grumpy old man named Ove who lives alone in his apartment in Sweden. He lives a solitary life having lost his wife recently and retiring from work. Things change for him when he gets a neighbour – a chatty family. Soon enough, as a reader, you will get hooked to Ove’s story that is sprinkled with humour and lots of sadness. The misunderstood old man leaves an indelible impression on you. And for those who love a good old softie, then expect to cry a bucketloads.
An unsettling story of a young woman, written by South Korean writer Han Kang, The Vegetarian is intense, dramatic, and implores you to come to terms with a story that may go beyond your comfort zone. Yeong-Hye is a young house wife who suddenly stops eating meat. This leads to a massive discord between her and her husband and family. They ostracise her, and she herself starts distancing herself from everything. The story leaves a reader wanting to find out more about this troubled woman, told through three perspectives. But with three unreliable narrators who have their own problems to deal with, it’s hard to know what made Yeong-Hye lose herself like this. An engrossing, quick read for the existentialist in you.
Writer Zadie Smith is one of the most important literary voices of our generation. Her strong female characters, albeit flawed, are relatable to most women, from young to old. The novel’s narrative has two young girls as protagonists, encapsulating snippets from their lives. Tap dancers who meet one suspecting day, the two girls’ lives intertwine over decades. They click over the fact that they are of mixed races but eventually, with each of their lives telling a tale of its own. The novel gives the readers an unreliable, unsympathetic narrator who manages to echo the diversity and class that the novel touches upon. A quick read, the novel is refreshing and quite unlike a novel you’d expect.
The Edible Woman
Written by Margaret Atwood, a strong feminist voice, the book is a perfect read that has empowerment, anger, and challenges gender stereotypes. It’s the kind of book that leaves you with a lot to think about right from capitalism, gender inequality, and the difficulties that a woman from the 1960s faced. Marian is a young woman who starts to disassociate right after she gets engaged to her boyfriend. She gives up meat, eggs, vegetables, cake before eventually giving up on eating, all the while getting repulsed by the idea of being viewed as a piece of meat herself, a repulsion that manifests in her disassociation. The book is a telling portrait of the way women were treated right before the Second Wave of Feminism took place, where they were expected to look gorgeous all the time, have kids, and take care of all domestic chores while also being submissive to their husbands. An important read, it’s one of Atwood’s most chilling book along with her others including The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Ivory Throne
Written by Manu S Pillai, this book is one for the history buffs. The book is essentially about Kerala, the history behind the House of Travancore. Marthanda Varma was a ruler of Travancore in the 1700s who set about principles and practices that eventually led to Thriuvananthapuram becoming one of Kerala’s most prominent cities. But while Marthanda Varma was looked at as quote a prominent figure in Kerala, this book is about the ranis. Particularly Sethu Laxmi Bayi, at the epicentre of the historic novel. The book makes for a riveting read, with details of each rani and Kerala’s progressive matrilineal society giving much needed light about royalty and social norms in that era.
Kamila Shamsie, a British-Pakistani writer, is a writer who efficiently fuses poetry and literary history together, just like in Home Fire. This book hooks you right from the first page, exploring the theme of home, family, love and sacrifice. There are multiple perspectives in this narrative, with each holding your attention. Exploring Greek writer Sophocles’ Antigone, this book is about two siblings, separated and yet tied together through various events. Circumstances lead them to believe in different ideologies, but an explosive narrative like this, makes you see this otherwise ancient story in a new light.
A classic Jane Austen book, there’s something summery about picking one of her books whenever you have classics in mind. Emma is a book that was written in the 1800s but comes alive in every generation. The book explores female friendship, the enticing world of playing cupid and matchmaking, and relationships in general. Austen was a writer who was way ahead of her times and that shows. Emma is a book that has been adapted so many times, either in theatre, screen or radio. Her characters are relatable and propagates a typical quality that would stand the test of time.