The Windup Girl
By Paolo Bacigalupi (Hachette India, Rs 395)
This book was first published in 2009 but is still doing the rounds. For a reason. It’s a kind of George Orwell’s 1984 set in the distant, even more dystopian future. Strange viruses abound, bio-engineering has led to a spate of new crops and diseases, fossil fuels are nearly unheard of. Then there’s the windup girl – an uncannily human-like robot trained to serve. Windups are not supposed to have souls, but one of them, Emiko, decides she can’t take the humiliation anymore. Her actions lead to unexpected consequences.
By Manju Kapur (Penguin Viking, Rs 599)
Manju Kapur’s books move you deeply and leave you uncomfortable mostly because they’re so close to home. Her sixth novel Brothers begins in Delhi with the story of Tapti Gaina, whose relationship status is definitely complicated – imagine being in love with your husband’s older brother. The book traces her husband and his brother’s family history from the time of the freedom struggle to the present day, when one of them kills the other. Kapur’s characters are wholesome, the events entirely plausible. It could be anyone you know, really.
By Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Rs 599)
Brought up in a decidedly middle-class British neighbourhood, the unnamed protagonist of this book is obsessed with her fellow brown friend Tracey, who dances like a dream. But our heroine has more noble aspirations – she wants to study, be a personal assistant to a legendary pop star, and help save children in Africa. Life, however, puts surprising lessons and people her way, and no matter how far she runs away from her past, it always manages to catch up. Yet another memorable read from Zadie Smith, now in the longlist for the Booker.