The Stationery Shop
By Marjan Kamali, Gallery Books (Rs 699)
Set in 1950s Tehran when Iranian society was divided in three camps – pro-Prime Minister Mossadegh, pro-communists, and pro-Shah – with each hating the other two, there blossoms a natural yet nuanced love story, which ends with the boy and girl forced to part ways on the eve of their wedding. The teenage protagonist Roya moves to the US, marries another man and then, 50 years later, manages to meet her first love once again to ask him why he had left. Marjan Kamali manages to weave political history with its personal impact in an uncomplicated way, making it accessible to today’s generation. This is a gem of a book.
The Parrot Green Saree
By Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Thornbird (Rs 350)
Translated from the original Bengali by Tutun Mukherjee, this is the story of a mother and her daughter at odds with one another. The last of Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s ‘Naxal’ trilogy, the book follows the life and thoughts of Bipasha, a brilliant academic, who just can’t seem to get along with her grown daughter Rohini, who is now a mother herself. It doesn’t help that Bipasha has a penchant for much younger lovers, towering ambitions for her career in academia, and was a reluctant mother to begin with. Rohini also never recovers from her parents’ divorce, and being forced to live with a “wayward” mother. The book is a feminist delight, turning stereotypes on their head, and exposing social hypocrisies.
You Beneath Your Skin
By Damyanti Biswas, Simon & Schuster (Rs 399)
A piece of fiction that mirrors modern-day reality with all its uncomfortable grime can be a difficult one to read, especially when it’s close to home. But Damyanti Biswas’s You Beneath Your Skin manages to hook you till the end. An Indian-American mother of an autistic child struggles to raise him in cold, harsh Delhi. There is also the complication of being deeply attracted to her friend’s married brother who is a police officer, and a spate of acid attacks on women across the city that ensnares her too in its hateful path. Beware, this is not a feel-good romance. It’s an eye-opener.