October 16, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

New Releases from Asia – April 2021

15 min read

Faraway by Lo Yi-Chin (trans. Jeremy Tiang) – Releasing in September

Book Blurb

In Faraway, a fictionalized version of Lo Yi-Chin finds himself stranded in mainland China attempting to bring his comatose father home. Lo’s father had fled decades ago, abandoning his first family to start a new life in Taiwan. After travel between the two countries becomes politically possible, he returns to visit the son he left behind, only to suffer a stroke. The middle-aged protagonist ventures to China, where he embarks on a protracted struggle with byzantine hospital regulations while dealing with relatives he barely knows. Meanwhile, back in Taiwan, his wife is about to give birth to their second child. Isolated in a foreign country, Lo reflects on his life, dwelling on his difficult relationship with his father and how becoming a father himself has changed him. Lo brings a keen sense of irony and sensitivity to everyday absurdity to his depiction of both family dynamics and fraught politics, offering a deft portrayal of the rift between China and Taiwan through an intimate view of a father-son relationship that bridges this divide.

About the Author

Lo Yi-Chin is an acclaimed Taiwanese writer, the recipient of numerous honors including the Hong Lou Meng Award and Taiwan Literary Award. His novels include Kuang Chaoren, Daughter, Western Xia Hotel, Surname of the Moon, and The Third Dancer.

About the Translator

Jeremy Tiang has translated works by writers including Yeng Pway Ngon, Su Wei-Chen, Yan Ge, Zhang Yueran, Chan Ho-Kei, and Li Er. He is the author of the short story collection It Never Rains on National Day (2015) and the novel State of Emergency (2017).


2 Faced by Abuzar Tabassum

Book Blurb

“Where did this happen?” the inspector asked. “We went for a walk outside our hotel and then after a few minutes, I saw a crowd of people surrounding Mr. Ozlan who was lying dead on the ground. I went inside the crowd to see him and when I came back, I could not find my wife there” Ramsay replied. “Mr. Ozlan? Which Mr. Ozlan?” the inspector asked. “Mr. Ozlan, the doctor, who jumped from his roof and died yesterday” Ramsay promptly replied. “Have you gone mad? Mr. Ozlan, the doctor, had died 5 years ago” the inspector responded.

Do you know the truth of Ramsay, his wife and Ozlan? The truth is here in this book and there are multiple layers of truth and each truth will open a closed chapter of your life.

Author Bio

The author is a computer science engineer by educational qualification and is currently working as an Assistant Professor but he is a writer, commentator, and orator by passion. In the past, he has worked with reputed Indian media houses like THE HINDU. He also writes on his own website – http://abuzaronline.com/. You may also listen to his soothing voice by visiting his YouTube Channel ‘Dear Life’. He creates interesting content that explores the ride in the life of a human being from hope to despair, heartbreak to affection, poverty to the richness, and emotional abuse to absolute blessing. The author takes special interest in writing on the theme of Mental well-being, Mental illness, and the stigma attached to it, and this reflects in the book as well on multiple occasions.


Murder at Daisy Apartments by Shabnam Minwalla

Book Blurb

Colaba, May 2020; Lockdown, Day 46: Baman Marker, the Chairperson of Daisy and Lily Apartments, is found poisoned in his home. He dies soon after. The twin apartments are sealed, so the murderer could have only been one of the residents.

The news shakes fifteen-year-old Nandini Venkat, a devourer of murder mysteries, out of her stupor. After all, didn’t she spot a pair of legs climbing up and down the stairs that deadly night…With her not-so-alert twin, Ved, and BFF Shanaya, she begins an investigation.

But the Chairperson knew every little dirty detail about every single resident, so the list of suspects is long. Was it Mr Carvalho—Nandini’s crush Daniel’s father—with his shady past? Or Shanaya’s mother, Amrita Aunty, who had a running feud with Baman? Or mean old retired principal Lina Almeida who now makes lethal detox smoothies? Or the old and immobile Mr Alimchandani with a long-buried secret?

The seemingly listless days of the lockdown, when secrets and tensions bubbled below the surface, come back to life in this gripping and entertaining whodunit. With Murder at Daisy Apartments, bestselling author Shabnam Minwalla brings her phenomenal gift for dramatic storytelling to a new genre.

About the Author

Shabnam Minwalla writes for newspapers, plays mother to three teenagers, shops for saris, and gobbles murder mysteries by the bookshelf. But her absolutely, totally, completely favourite activity is writing books for children. Her popular books for children and young adults include The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street, What Maya Saw, the laugh-a-minute Nimmi series, and the shiver-inducing Saira Zariwala Is Afraid. Shabnam has been a speaker at the Jaipur Lit Fest and has conducted workshops and book readings at Bookaroo, the Kala Ghoda Festival, the Tata Lit Live Festival and lit fests around the country.


More things in Heaven and Earth by Kiran Manral

Book Blurb

When Kamla Malik’s husband Nihar dies of a heart attack in Goa, she’s devastated. Haunted by the lack of closure, she tries mediums, séances, and Ouija boards to help her establish contact. All she wants is a final goodbye. She tries to find him in the twisted labyrinthine worlds that he now inhabits, but does she really want him back, and worse if she finds him, will he let her go? Or is she, as the doctors believe, living in the tunnels of her mind, making it impossible for her to distinguish hallucination from reality? Coincidentally, her eccentric and ailing maternal aunt invites her to visit her splendidly isolated and crumbling villa in Goa. Here, Kamla meets Victor, her aunt’s stepson. He stakes his claim over the villa and with it, over Kamla. While she accepts that Victor is her here and now, why does Nihar continue to torment her? Is she doomed to be forever haunted by him? An exquisitely sinister tale of bereavement and the grey lands between the dead and the living, both within the mind and outside of it, More Things in Heaven and Earth is the horror of what happens when love, obsession and betrayal collide.

About the Author

Kiran Manral is an award-winning and bestselling author, TEDx speaker, columnist, and mentor. She has written books across genres in both fiction and non-fiction. She lives in Mumbai.


Women who only Wear Themselves by Arundhathi Subramaniam

Book Blurb

Sri Annapurani Amma left the safety of home and family to follow the summons of a long-dead saint. Like Akka Mahadevi and Lal Ded before her, she chooses to live naked, and sometimes delivers prophecies, but what shines through is her humour and crazily one-pointed devotion to her path. 

Soon after her tenth birthday, Balarishi Vishwashirasini was predicting futures—in no time she was transformed into a guru. Now in her thirties, this gifted teacher of nada yoga admits to sometimes feeling she’s missed out on a real childhood.

Lata Mani, a respected academician in the US, was plunged into the path of tantra after a major accident left her with a brain injury. Today, she talks of how the spiritual life is deeply anchored in the wisdom of the body—not unlike the soaring yet rooted redwood trees of her adopted home.

Maa Karpoori, a feisty young woman, found her calling when she joined a local yoga class. Through a rollercoaster ride that catapulted her from marriage to monkhood, she retains her fierce independence and contagious joy of living.

In this extraordinary book, poet and seeker Arundhathi Subramaniam gives us a glimpse into the lives of four self-contained, unapologetic female spiritual travellers. Sensitive, insightful and spare, Women Who Wear Only Themselves is a revelation and a celebration.

About the Author

Arundhathi Subramaniam is the award-winning author of twelve books of poetry and prose. As poet, her most recent book is Love Without a Story. As anthologist, her books include an anthology of bhakti poetry, Eating God, and a book of essays, Pilgrim’s India. As prose writer, her work includes The Book of Buddha and the bestselling biography of a contemporary mystic, Sadhguru: More Than a Life. She has worked over the years as poetry editor, curator and critic. Her book, When God Is a Traveller, won the Sahitya Akademi Award 2020; was the Season Choice of the Poetry Book Society, UK; and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in 2015. Her awards include the inaugural Khushwant Singh Poetry Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Il Ceppo Prize in Italy, the Zee Indian Women’s Award for Literature, the Mystic Kalinga Award, among others.


It’s a Wonderful Life- Roads to Happiness by Ruskin Bond

Book Blurb

In a grey and frightened world driven to despair by the pandemic, Ruskin Bond’s luminous new book, it’s a wonderful life, cuts through the gloom like a blade of bright Steel. His unerring eye seeks out the joys and positive truths to be found in the smallest of incidents that occur in our lives, The good news and sources of happiness that we often Miss out on as a result of the anxiety and bad news that has pervaded our daily existence over the past year. Perceptive, uplifting, and deeply moving, it’s a wonderful life is another triumph from one of our most beloved writers.

About the Author

RUSKIN BOND is the author of several bestselling novels and collections of short stories, essays, and poems. These include: The Room on the Roof (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize); A Flight of PigeonsThe Night Train at DeoliTime Stops at ShamliOur Trees Still Grow in Dehra (winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award); Angry RiverThe Blue UmbrellaDelhi Is Not FarRain in the MountainsTigers for DinnerTales of FosterganjA Gathering of FriendsUpon An Old Wall DreamingSmall Towns, Big StoriesUnhurried TalesA Gallery of RascalsRhododendrons in the Mist; and Miracle at Happy Bazaar.


Fourth Wave Feminism, Social Media and (Sl)Activism by Zinia Mitra (Author), Amelia Walker (Foreword)

Book Blurb

This book discusses the recent re-emergence of interest in feminism in popular culture and social media which has prompted many to celebrate the events as a new wave of feminism, the fourth wave. The book takes up the debate of postfeminism and /or fourth wave and studies how the new wave intersects with the previous feminist goals. It closely studies the hashtag campaigns to trace how a generation of women are drawn into (sl)activism thereby surging the resurgence.


Fifty-Five pillars, Red Walls by Usha Priyamvada(Translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell) (Author), Daisy Rockwell (Translator)

Book Blurb

First published in 1961, Usha Priyamvada’s debut novel Pachpan Khambe, Laal Deewaarein is located within the boundaries of an all-women’s college in Delhi. Behind its walls is Sushma Sharma—lecturer, warden, single, and sole provider for her large family. Despite her relative youth and elegance, she is resigned to the regimented loneliness of her life, until a chance meeting with the charismatic Neel. Then, long-thwarted desires uncurl and the shackles she has accepted suddenly begin to seem unbearable. But the world around her is still unchanged, and independence still causes scandal…

In spare, evocative prose, Fifty-five Pillars, Red Walls skilfully explores the physical, mental and social paradigms which locked so many women into narrow ideals, as they still do. Daisy Rockwell’s pitch-perfect translation brings this quietly intense, poignant and pathbreaking Hindi novel into the blazing spotlight of classic Indian literature for the first time.

About the Author

Usha Priyamvada is among the leading figures of modern Indian literature. She was born in 1930 in Kanpur, and studied at Allahabad University. After teaching at Lady Shri Ram College and Allahabad University, she won a Fulbright fellowship to study comparative literature at the University of Indiana. Following that, she was hired at the University of Wisconsin, where she went on to teach for decades until her retirement in 2002. She has published seven novels, a study of Surdas, and numerous short stories. – The Translator: Daisy Rockwell is a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, USA. She holds a PhD in South Asian literature from the University of Chicago. She has translated Krishna Sobti’s most recent novel, A Gujarat Here, a Gujarat There (2019), as well as a number of other works, including Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas (2016), Upendranath Ashk’s Falling Walls (2015), and Khadija Mastur’s The Women’s Courtyard (2018).


Teaching a Horse to Sing: Tales of Uncommon Sense from India and Elsewhere by Delshad Karanjia

Book Blurb

Akbar and Birbal, Krishnadeva Raya and Tenali Raman, Vikram and Vetal, Mullah Nasruddin…. The exploits of these legendary wits, rulers, wise men, riddlers, and tricksters are familiar to every Indian who loves a good story and a good laugh. In teaching a horse to sing: tales of uncommon sense from India and elsewhere, Delshad Karanjia retells the best-known stories featuring these characters and a few others from around the world.

About the Author

First-time author Delshad Karanjia has worked as a journalist for over four decades across several continents, beginning with the Times Group in Mumbai. In the UK, she freelanced as a copy editor with the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, and BBC Publications, as a reporter/ newsreader for BBC Local Radio, and as a researcher/ producer for the Channel 4 network. In the US, she worked as a copy editor at the Houston Chronicle, and subsequently as a writer/editor for the oil company Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia. Now settled in Pune, she continues to edit, write, and teach.


The English Teacher and Other Stories by Kiran Doshi

Book Blurb

‘I don’t know, memsahib,’ she said in the end. ‘But I don’t like it, that man coming here. I hope he does not come again.’

‘He will… And the next time he comes, don’t behave like a rabbit. Face him like a man.’

Miss Coelho took intimidation in her stride, whether by the underworld don’s henchmen, or rapacious builders like her new landlord. They were minor inconveniences. Her purpose in life was to serve the Lord by teaching good English to her young students and, if possible, adults as well. God knew they needed it.

The other fourteen women that anchor the stories in this collection are quite different, but remarkable in their own way. Like Mrs Hiralal Motilal Jain, in ‘Only an Indian Wife’, who’s shrewder than any crooked taxation lawyers could be. In ‘Janaki’, the eponymous housemaid is but a demure young woman—or is she? The Bombay-born Shabana Meherali, in ‘By a Thread’, might be confined to her marital home in Rawalpindi, but there’s really nothing that can stop her from finding someone to converse with in her mother tongue. Asha, in ‘Saga-vhala’, is as glued to south Bombay as to the TV, and knows more about Bollywood than even judges at a quiz contest. Freny, in ‘Her F word’, is happily married to a successful doctor like herself but harbours a secret longing in her heart. And there’s Indira, Under Secretary, in ‘Women Can’t Play It’—not one for playing chess; but the game she is adept at is far more complex and cunning.

‘Women are like men, only different, mostly better,’ writes Kiran Doshi in the Author’s Note—and then proceeds to show us how in fifteen memorable stories written with quiet, compelling humour and an intuitive understanding of life’s little triumphs and troubles and abiding oddness. The English Teacher is a book of great charm, and thoroughly entertaining.

About the Author

Kiran Doshi is a retired diplomat and educationist. His novel Jinnah Often Came to Our House won The Hindu Prize in 2016, and his short story ‘Miss Coelho, English Teacher’ was shortlisted for the 2019 Commonwealth Prize. His other works include Birds of Passage, a novel, and Diplomatic Tales, a work of comic fiction written in verse.


The Oracle of Karuthupuzha: A Novel by Manu Bhattathiri

Book Blurb

With two cows and four mouths to feed, Nareshan can barely make ends meet selling milk to the inhabitants of Karuthupuzha. That is, until his daughter, Sarasu, is possessed by the demon-god, Chaathan. Now, the faithful from all over Karuthupuzha and beyond visit Nareshan with money and gifts to receive Chaathan’s blessings. The sceptics of the town, meanwhile, believe that Nareshan is fooling everyone to make money. However, when one of the leading sceptics in town, Dasappan, member of the Communist party, rationalist and atheist, loses his mind after loudly proclaiming that Chaathan is a farce, the people’s belief in a divine power residing in Sarasu is reinforced. With the number of faithful only growing as each day passes, Nareshan realizes that his daughter’s possession might be the best thing to have happened to him. When the rich widow Ponnamma comes to his house to seek help from Chaathan for her son, Nano, the fate of Nareshan and his family is set to change forever. In the Oracle of Karuthupuzha, Manu Bhattathiri revisits the town of Karuthupuzha that was immortalised in The Town That Laughed and Savithri’s Special Room and Other Stories.

About the Author

MANU BHATTATHIRI is a Keralite settled in Bengaluru. He has worked as an advertising copywriter, a journalist, and a college lecturer. He co-owns a small advertising agency. He is the author of The Town That Laughed: A Novel and Savithri’s Special Room and Other Stories, both set in the fictional town of Karuthupuzha.


Battlefield by Vishram Bedekar (Translated from the Marathi by Jerry Pinto)

Book Blurb

The world is on the brink of World War II. Herta, like thousands of other Jews, is escaping from Hitler’s Germany to Shanghai with her frail mother and meagre possessions. Chakradhar Vidhwans, a Marathi man, is returning to Mumbai after a long stay in England. While on the ship from Italy to Shanghai, Herta is rejected for her race, and Chakradhar gets into a fight with a waiter who insults him for his skin colour. A chance encounter leads to Herta and Chakradhar finding solace and love in each other. But when Chakradhar disembarks in India and Herta can’t, their separation is tragic and moving.

Originally published in 1939 in Marathi as Ranaangan, this powerful investigation of nationalism is also a testimony to the redemptive power of love. Urgent and relevant now more than ever, this classic is brought to a new readership in a luminous translation by the celebrated author and translator Jerry Pinto.

About the Author

Vishwanath Chintamani Bedekar (1906-1998), who used Vishram Bedekar as his professional name, was a prominent and immensely popular Marathi writer, playwright and film-maker. His first and only novel, Ranaangan, was published in 1939 and created a sensation in the literary circles of the time. Among the several plays he wrote are Bramhakumari, Naro Va Kunjaro Va, Vaje Paul Apule and Tilak ani Agarkar. In 1984, he published his autobiography, Ek Zhaad Ani Don Pakshi (A Tree and Two Birds), which won the a Sahitya Akademi Award the following year. A trained cinematographer, Bedekar also directed over fifteen films in Hindi and Marathi.

About the Translator

Jerry Pinto is the author of the novels Murder in Mahim (2017; winner of the Valley of Words Award and shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award) and Em and the Big Hoom (2012; winner of the Hindu Prize and the Crossword Book Award), and the non-fiction book Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (2006; winner of the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema). He has also translated (from Marathi) the autobiographies Baluta by Daya Pawar and Strike a Blow to Change the World by Eknath Awad; the memoirs I Want to Destroy Myself by Malika Amar Shaikh and I, the Salt Doll by Vandana Mishra; Baburao Bagul’s short-story collection When I Hid My Caste; the novels Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar and Half-Open Windows by Ganesh Matkari; and, with Neela Bhagwat, a selection of abhangs by Marathi Warkari women saints, The Ant Who Swallowed the Sun.

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