Fear of Lions
Amita Kanekar (Hachette India, Rs 699)
Aurangzeb Alamgir is the ruler of Hindustan, but even the Mughal ruler can do nothing to erase the caste fissures, economic inequality and gender injustice in his majority Hindu kingdom. Set 12 years into his rule, this wildly absorbing second novel by Amita Kanekar looks at an unlikely revolt led by women. As the plot unfolds on its tragic course, it reveals the horrible underbelly of medieval Indian society when squalor sat aside crony capitalism, where women and the lower castes were treated only marginally better than animals, and where righteousness and democracy were considered dangerous and subversive to the status quo. Historical fiction at its best.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Elif Shafak (Penguin Random House, Rs 499)
Award-winning British-Turkish author Elif Shafak’s 11th novel (and 17th book) begins with a death. Sex worker Leila has been murdered and her body thrown into a bin. But her brain is still active, as the story’s title goes, for 10 minutes 38 seconds. In this eternally brief period, she recalls vivid memories – of growing up in a small Turkish town ridden with patriarchal social mores and moral policing, of running away from an unhappy marriage, of taking up sex work and falling in love. In the meantime, five friends of hers are searching for her…
Lead image: Praveen Gupta on Unsplash. First published in eShe’s August issue