Feroza Ginwalla, a pampered, protected 16-year-old Pakistani girl, is sent to America by her parents, who are alarmed by the fundamentalism overtaking Pakistan — and their daughter. Hoping that a few months with her uncle, an MIT grad student, will soften the girl’s rigid thinking, they get more than they bargained for: Feroza, enthralled by American culture and her new freedom, insists on staying. A bargain is struck, allowing Feroza to attend college with the understanding that she will return home and marry well. As a student in a small western town, Feroza’s perceptions of America, her homeland, and herself begin to alter. When she falls in love with and wants to marry a Jewish American, her family is aghast. Feroza realizes just how far she has come — and wonders how much further she can go. This delightful coming-of-age novel is both remarkably a remarkably funny and acute portrayal of America as seen through the eyes of a perceptive young immigrant.
Abraham Verghese - Cutting for Stone
The story is a riveting saga of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, born of a tragic union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, and bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.But it's love, not politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland and make his way to America, finding refuge in his work at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him, wreaking havoc and destruction, Marion has to entrust his life to the two men he has trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children
Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts. This novel is at once a fascinating family saga and an astonishing evocation of a vast land and its people–a brilliant incarnation of the universal human comedy. Twenty-five years after its publication, Midnight’s Children stands apart as both an epochal work of fiction and a brilliant performance by one of the great literary voices of our time.
Amitav Ghosh - River of Smoke
In September 1838, a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. All struggle to cope with their losses - and for some, unimaginable freedoms - in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th-century Canton.
Fatima Bhutto - Songs of Blood and Sword
In September 1996, a fourteen-year-old Fatima Bhutto hid in a windowless dressing room, shielding her baby brother while shots rang out in the streets outside the family home in Karachi. This was the evening that her father Murtaza was murdered, along with six of his associates. In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto, Fatima's aunt, and the woman she had publically accused of ordering her father's murder, was assassinated in Rawalpindi. It was the latest in a long line of tragedies for one of the world's best known political dynasties. _Songs of Blood and Sword_ tells the story of a family of rich feudal landlords - the proud descendents of a warrior caste - who became powerbrokers in the newly created state of Pakistan. It is an epic tale full of the romance and legend of feudal life, the glamour and licence of the international political elite and ultimately, the tragedy of four generations of a family defined by a political idealism that would destroy them. The history of this extraordinary family mirrors the tumultuous events of Pakistan itself, and the quest to find the truth behind her father's murder has led Fatima to the heart of her country's volatile political establishment.It is the history of a nation from Partition through the struggle with India over Kashmir, the Cold War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan up to the post 9/11 'War on Terror'. It is also a book about a daughter's love for her father and her search to uncover, and to understand, the truth of his life and death. It is a book about a family and nation riven by murder, corruption, conspiracy and division, written by one who has lived it, in the heart of the storm. _Songs of Blood and Sword_ is a book of international significance by a young woman who has already established herself as a brave and passionate campaigner.
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Lowland
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution: the most powerful and ambitious novel yet from the Pulitzer Prize-winning, multi-million copy bestselling author of The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth.
Anita Nair - Ladies Coupé
Meet Akhila: forty-five and single, an income-tax clerk, and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life - always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider - until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari. In the intimate atmosphere of the all-women sleeping car - the 'Ladies Coupe' - Akhila asks the five women the question that has been haunting her all her adult life: can a woman stay single and be happy, or does she need a man to feel complete? This wonderfully atmospheric, deliciously warm novel takes the reader into the heart of women's lives in contemporary India, revealing how the dilemmas that women face in their relationships with husbands, mothers, friends, employers and children are the same world over.
Anita Nair - The Better Man
A magical, inventive novel about one man's struggle to find his place in the small Indian village of his birth In Anita Nair's warm and imaginative first novel, middle-aged Acuthan Nair returns home to restore his childhood house and to confront old ghosts. When he begins the project, he hires the town painter, One-Screw-Loose Bhasi, to oversee the renovation, and the two men quickly develop a close friendship. Bhasi, who has a special talent for healing the wounded, helps Acuthan come to terms with his mother's violent death and teaches him how to stand up to his overbearing, manipulative father. But when members of the town elite tempt Acuthan with a chance at gaining the status he's always craved, his loyalty to Bhasi is tested. The Better Man is a playful and moving account of the redemptive power of friendship.
Anita Nair - Mistress
When travel writer Christopher Stewart arrives at a riverside resort in Kerala, India to meet Koman, Radha's uncle and a famous dancer, he enters a world of masks and repressed emotions. From their first meeting, both Radha and her uncle are drawn to the enigmatic young man with his cello and his incessant questions about the past. The triangle quickly excludes Shyam, Radha's husband, who can only watch helplessly as she embraces Chris with a passion that he has never been able to draw from her. Also playing the role of observer-participant is Koman; his life story, as it unfolds, captures all the nuances and contradictions of the relationships being made--and unmade--in front of his eyes.
Anita Nair - Lessons in Forgetting
When we first see Meera, she is a carefully groomed corporate wife with a successful career as a writer of cookbooks. Then one day her husband fails to come home after a party and she becomes responsible not just for her children but her mother and grandmother, and the running of Lilac House, their rambling old family home in Bangalore. Enter Professor J.A. Krishnamurthy, or JAK, a renowned cyclone studies expert, on a very different trajectory in life. In a bedroom in his house lies his nineteen-year old daughter Smriti, left comatose after a vicious attack on her while she was on holiday at a beachside town. A wall of silence and fear surrounds the incident— the grieving father is helped neither by the local police, nor by her boyfriend in his search for The truth. Through a series of coincidences, Meera and JAK find their lives turning and twisting together, with the unpredictability and sheer inevitability of a cyclone. And as the days pass, fresh beginnings appear where there seemed to be only endings.
Dhan Gopal Mukerji - Gay-Neck
The story of the training of a carrier pigeon and its service during the First World War, revealing the bird's courageous and spirited adventures over the housetops of an Indian village, in the Himalayan Mountains, and on the French battlefield.
Hanif Kureishi - Something to Tell You
Jamal Khan, a psychoanalyst in his fifties living in London, is haunted by memories of his teens: his first love, Ajita; the exhilaration of sex, drugs and politics; and a brutal act of violence which changed his life for ever. As he and his best friend Henry attempt to make the sometimes painful, sometimes comic transition to their divorced middle age, balancing the conflicts of desire and dignity, Jamal's teenage traumas make a shocking return into his present life.
Amitav Ghosh - The Glass Palace
When you heave your final sigh and turn the last page of Amitav Ghosh's new novel, The Glass Palace, you feel as if you've travelled for 100 years on foot, through the most distant and lush lands on the globe. The Glass Palace is as close as a person tucked cozily into an armchair on a rainy day can get to the rubber plantations of Malaysia, the teak forests of Burma, and the bustling city streets of Rangoon and Singapore, bearing witness to the demise of the Burmese monarchy and the rise and fall of the British empire. A stately and vibrantly detailed family saga set in south-central Asia against the tumultuous backdrop of the 20th century, The Glass Palace is the story of Rajkumar, an Indian shop boy orphaned in Mandalay, who, on the eve of the 1885 British invasion, falls in love with Dolly, a beautiful handmaiden to the Queen of Burma. The conquering British send Burma's King Thebaw and his loyal court, including the young handmaiden, into exile in remote India. Rajkumar, left behind in Burma, is adept at working the new colonial system, and he manages to build a thriving lumber business in the growing teak trade.
Anita Nair - The Lilac House
Meera is happily submerged in the role of corporate wife and cookbook writer. Then, one day, her husband fails to come home. Overnight, Meera, disoriented and emotionally fragile, becomes responsible not just for her two children, but also her mother, grandmother and the running of Lilac House, their rambling old family home in Bangalore. A few streets away, Professor J.A. Krishnamurthy or Jak, cyclone studies expert, has recently returned from Florida, to care for his nineteen-year-old daughter, the victim of a tragic accident. What happened on her holiday in a small beachside village? The police will not help, Smriti’s friends have vanished, and a wall of silence and fear surrounds the incident. But Jak cannot rest until he gets to the truth. Meera and of Jak's paths intertwine as they uncover the truth about the secrets of their pasts and the promise of the future. The Lilac House is a sweeping story of redemption, forgiveness and second chances.
Amitav Ghosh - Sea of Poppies
At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. The ship's destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose is to fight China's vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners together on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations. The first in an epic trilogy, this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the backstreets of Canton. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encap sulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive--a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Palace of Illusions
Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to the time of the Indian epic The Mahabharat—a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical. Through her narrator Panchaali, the wife of the legendary five Pandavas brothers, Divakaruni gives us a rare feminist interpretation of an epic story. The novel traces Panchaali’s life, beginning with her magical birth in fire as the daughter of a king before following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at the brothers’ sides through years of exile and a terrible civil war. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her stratagems to take over control of her household from her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husband’s most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female voice in a world of warriors, gods, and ever-manipulating hands of fate.
Kiran Desai - Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Kiran Desai's brilliant debut novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, is a whimsical tale that blends fable-esque magic with satirical comedy. The story is that of Sampath Chawla, born in the fictitious village of Shahkot in the midst of the worst drought in local history. With his birth comes long-awaited torrential rain, and it is obvious from the beginning that there is nothing ordinary about Sampath. After years of failure in school and then work, despite the eccentric love of his idiosyncratic family, Sampath yearns for an escape--for a peaceful, simpler way of life. Thus he flees to a sanctuary outside of Shahkot, where he finds solace within the branches of a guava tree. From his perch Sampath becomes comically misconstrued as a great visionary, a religious guru of sorts. He proceeds to find fame, fortune, and eventual chaos--in the form of bumbling bureaucrats and a group of unruly, liquor-loving monkeys who only Sampath can tame--by bestowing his wisdom upon the many people who make the pilgrimage to meet the Monkey Baba.
Bharati Mukherjee - Jasmine
Lifetimes ago, under a banyan tree in the village of Hasnapur, an astrologer cupped his ear ... and foretold my widowhood and exile," relates Jyoti, fifth cursed daughter in a family of nine. Though she can't escape fate, Jyoti reinvents herself time and again. She leaves her dusty Punjabi village to marry as Jasmine; travels rough, hidden airways and waters to America to reemerge as Jase, an illegal "day mummy" in hip Manhattan; and lands beached in Iowa's farmlands as Jane, mother to an adopted teenage Vietnamese refugee and "wife" to a banker. Bharati Mukherjee (The Middleman and Other Stories) makes each world exotic, her lyrical prose broken only by the violence Jasmine almost casually recounts and survives.
Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss
This stunning second novel from Desai is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. The makeshift family's neighbors include a coterie of Anglophiles who might be savvy readers of V.S. Naipaul but who are, perhaps, less aware of how fragile their own social standing is—at least until a surge of unrest disturbs the region. Jemubhai, with his hunting rifles and English biscuits, becomes an obvious target. Besides threatening their very lives, the revolution also stymies the fledgling romance between 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor, Gyan. The cook's son, Biju, meanwhile, lives miserably as an illegal alien in New York. All of these characters struggle with their cultural identity and the forces of modernization while trying to maintain their emotional connection to one another. In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a "better life," when one person's wealth means another's poverty.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Queen of Dreams
Rakhi, a young artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California, is struggling to keep her footing with her family and with a world in alarming transition. Her mother is a dream teller, born with the ability to share and interpret the dreams of others, to foresee and guide them through their fates. This gift of vision fascinates Rakhi but also isolates her from her mother’s past in India and the dream world she inhabits, and she longs for something to bring them closer. Caught beneath the burden of her own painful secret, Rakhi’s solace comes in the discovery, after her mother’s death, of her dream journals, which begin to open the long-closed door to her past. As Rakhi attempts to divine her identity, knowing little of India but drawn inexorably into a sometimes painful history she is only just discovering, her life is shaken by new horrors. In the wake of September 11, she and her friends must deal with dark new complexities about their acculturation. Haunted by nightmares beyond her imagination, she nevertheless finds unexpected blessings: the possibility of new love and understanding for her family. “A dream is a telegram from the hidden world,” Rakhi’s mother writes in her journals. In lush and elegant prose, Divakaruni has crafted a vivid and enduring dream, one that reveals hidden truths about the world we live in, and from which readers will be reluctant to wake.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Vine of Desire
The beloved characters of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s bestselling novel Sister of My Heart are reunited in this powerful narrative that challenges the emotional bond between two lifelong friends, as the husband of one becomes dangerously attracted to the other. Anju and Sudha formed an astounding, almost psychic connection during their childhood in India. When Anju invites Sudha, a single mother in Calcutta, to come live with her and her husband, Sunil, in California, Sudha foolishly accepts, knowing full well that Sunil has long desired her. As Sunil’s attraction rises to the surface, the trio must struggle to make sense of the freedoms of America–and of the ties that bind them to India and to one another.