The Book of Chocolate Saints
Author: Jeet Thayil
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Price: Rs 408
In incandescent prose, award-winning novelist Jeet Thayil tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, blocked poet, serial seducer of young women, reformed alcoholic (but only just), philosopher, recluse, all-round wild man and India’s greatest living painter. At the age of sixty-six, Xavier, who has been living in New York, is getting ready to return to the land of his birth to stage one final show of his work (accompanied by a mad bacchanal). As we accompany Xavier and his partner and muse ‘Goody’ on their unsteady and frequently sidetracked journey from New York to New Delhi, the venue of the final show, we meet a host of memorable characters—the Bombay poets of the seventies and eighties, ‘poets who sprouted from the soil like weeds or mushrooms or carnivorous new flowers, who arrived like meteors, burned bright for a season or two and vanished without a trace’, journalists, conmen, murderers, alcoholics, addicts, artists, whores, society ladies, thugs—and are also given unforgettable (and sometimes unbearable) insights into love, madness, poetry, sex, painting, saints, death, God and the savagery that fuels all great art.
Narrated in a huge variety of voices and styles, all of which blend seamlessly into a novel of remarkable accomplishment, The Book of Chocolate Saints is the sort of literary masterpiece that only comes along once in a very long time.
Don’t Run, My Love
Author: Easterine Kire
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited
Price: Rs 282
Atuonuo lives with her widowed mother Visuenuo in Kija, an ancient village of the Angamis. Their lives are hard, regulated by the seasons and by the ceaseless annual labours of hoeing and digging, planting and harvesting. But it is also a life of peace, lived in a well-knit community of wise elders and caring, though sometimes overbearing neighbours and relatives. This peace is shattered when Kevi, a young hunter, lithe and possessed of an animal magnetism, better looking than any other man in the village, comes to them at harvest time offering help and a hunk of venison. Kevi falls in love with Atuonuo and proposes marriage. Atuonuo, young in years and unsure of her heart, turns him down. But love becomes menacing when Kevi, angered by the rejection, viciously turns on Atuonuo, and reveals a side of himself that neither mother nor daughter could have imagined in their worst nightmares. With grace and in restrained, lyrical prose, Easterine Kire draws upon legend and a profound understanding of human nature to weave a compelling tale of love and the demons it sometimes conjures.
Price: Rs 260
It’s the winter of 1946. A truck leaves the village of Campbellpur after news of the impending Partition pours in. It is carrying people who don’t know where they will go. They have just heard words like ‘border’ and ‘refugee’, and are struggling to understand how drawing a line might carve out Pakistan from Hindustan. As they reach the border, the caravan disperses and people go their own ways. Gulzar’s first novel tracks the lives of the people in that truck right from 1946 up to the Kargil war. A novel on what the Partition entailed for ordinary people, Two is also a meditation on the fact that the division of India and the carnage that followed, once set into motion, kept happening inexorably and ceaselessly, and people like those who left their homes on that truck never found another home; they kept looking for a place called home, a place to belong to.