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Mumbai: Flick through a debut novel that weaves a narrative around the changes in one’s life with the arrival of a stranger; read the tale of a curious but mischievous child and his tryst with a teacher who is hell-bent on setting him right; and finally relive a play that tells the story of the Bengal famine.
Romantic novels have long drawn a massive readership. As the monsoon sets in over most parts of the country, what better to do than flick through these non-preachy, quick-read offerings that weave fictional narratives around love and its various shades.
The Big Binge Bookshelf has all this on offer for its readers this weekend.
1. Book: Familiar Strangers; Author: Samah; Publisher: Penguin
What if your husband’s ex-girlfriend makes a sudden comeback into your lives?
Priya and Chirag are like several other modern couples, living life at breakneck speed unknowingly stuck in the rut of a marriage that is obviously dying, if not already dead. But things start to change when Priya’s position in Chirag’s life is threatened by his past – his ex-girlfriend, who returns when they least expect it.
A third person’s entry into their marriage awakens emotions that have been dormant for too long. But is it too late? Is the damage beyond repair?
2. Book: The Globetrotters; Author: Arefa Tehsin; Publisher: Puffin India
Hudhud is horrible for everyone. He polishes off his classmates’ lunches, plays cruel pranks on his teachers and troubles innocent creatures. Until his strange new history teacher decides to set him straight.
The lesson? A curse! Now Hudhud must roam the vast earth. His goal? To find the answer to all wrongs. And so begins Hudhud’s remarkable journey: As a blue whale calf separated from his mother in the deep; as a trusting caterpillar who befriends a hunting spider; as a competitive caribou on a perilous trek; as an Arctic tern too scared to fly.
But fly across the world he must, if he hopes to ever return home. Follow Hudhud on this surreal trip, through the Arctic Ocean and the Sahara Desert, among fragrant flowers and tall grass, and find out all about the inner lives of some majestic animals and the wonders of the wild.
3. Book: Nabanna; Author: Bijon Bhattacharya; Translator: Arjun Ghosh; Publisher: Rupa
During the relief efforts in the wake of the Bengal famine, the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) created “Nabanna” – a play that tells the story of the villagers of Aminpur.
The Sammadar family is already battling extreme food shortage, starvation and high-handedness of land sharks when a tidal wave destroys their crops, homes, hopes and everything. In the desperation to survive, they are forced to walk to Calcutta (now Kolkata). But their hope of help from the Calcutta middle-class is soon dashed by the apathy and lack of preparation that they encounter. They return to the village and resolve to counter their fate with a new strategy.
“Nabanna” is a watershed in the history of the Indian stage on several counts. It marks a break from the commercial stage and the inception of an activist, amateur theatre. It transcended the limitations of the naturalistic stage to make way for a versatile décor which added pace to the episodic action. This book includes a critical introduction, which traces the context and significance of Nabanna and testimonies by important figures of the first performance of the play.
4. Book: From Twinkle, With Love; Author: Sandhya Menon; Publisher: Hachette India
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy, Sahil’s twin brother, is a bonus.
When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorable Sahil. Twinkle soon realises that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?
Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favourite female filmmakers, “From Twinkle, With Love” navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
5. Book: The Girl Who Couldn’t Love; Author: Shinie Antony; Publisher: Speaking Tiger
An introverted, middle-aged spinster, Roo, or Rudrakshi Sen, lives with her mother and teaches English at a local school. Roo’s mother, semi-blind and a chronic invalid, lives most of the time in an imaginary world where she turns the grief of her husband’s death and their bizarre relationship into the belief that theirs was a happy, conventional marriage. Roo cultivates an aloof manner and distances herself from close relationships to stave off memories of her childhood and of Eeedee, the girl who entered her life as a six-year-old and left as a teenager-after one night that was to haunt and shape both their adult lives.
When Kumar, a man much younger than her, enters Roo’s life out of nowhere, she is intensely attracted to him – an attraction she believes is reciprocal. She begins an affair with this mysterious stranger, knowing that all affairs end messily. It is her secrets she wants to shield. But her secrets and this man are inextricably linked. Grab a copy of the book to read more.
6. Book: The Kaafir’s Love; Author: Abhisar Sharma; Publisher: Rupa
Two dramatic incidents shake up the tenuous peace in an Old Delhi neighbourhood: A terrorist commits suicide in the Jama Masjid area and an influential trader is shot near the same spot. As simmer comes to boil, age-old antagonisms surface and sharp lines are drawn. Amidst these troubled times, Sameer, a Hindu boy, falls in love with a Muslim girl, Inara. Unaware of the consequences of his love that is considered forbidden, Sameer has dragged down the rabbit hole of intolerance and as he sinks, he discovers a shocking truth – a truth that shall change many lives forever.
Restless and on the edge, “The Kaafir’s Love” is volatile and an intense love story set against our troubled and provocative times.
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