The Indian Subcontinent

The Death of Vishnu

By Manil Suri

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"At the opening of this masterful debut novel, Vishnu lies dying on the staircase he inhabits while his neighbors the Pathaks and the Asranis argue over who will pay for an ambulance. As the action spirals up through the floors of the apartment building we are pulled into the drama of the residents' lives: Mr. Jalal's obsessive search for higher meaning; Vinod Taneja's longing for the wife he has lost; the comic elopement of Kavita Asrani, who fancies herself the heroine of a Hindi movie. Suffused with Hindu mythology, this story of one apartment building becomes a metaphor for the social and religious divisions of contemporary India, and Vishnu's ascent of the staircase parallels the soul's progress through the various stages of existence. As Vishnu closes in on the riddle of his own mortality, we wonder whether he might not be the god Vishnu, guardian not only of the fate of the building and its occupants, but of the entire universe."

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The God of Small Things

By Arundhati Roy

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"Compared favorably to the works of Faulkner and Dickens, Arundhati Roy’s debut novel is a modern classic that has been read and loved worldwide. Equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama, it is the story of an affluent Indian family forever changed by one fateful day in 1969. The seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel see their world shaken irrevokably by the arrival of their beautiful young cousin, Sophie. It is an event that will lead to an illicit liaison and tragedies accidental and intentional, exposing 'big things [that] lurk unsaid' in a country drifting dangerously toward unrest. Lush, lyrical, and unnerving, The God of Small Things is an award-winning landmark that started for its author an esteemed career of fiction and political commentary that continues unabated."

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The Impressionist

By Hari Kunzru

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"Fathered, through circuitous circumstances, by an Englishman, Pran Nath Razdan, the boy who will become the Impressionist, was passed off by his Indian mother as the child of her husband, a wealthy man of high caste. Growing up spoiled in a life of luxury just down river from the Taj Mahal, at fifteen the news of Pran's true parentage is revealed to his father and he is tossed out into the street--a pariah and an outcast. Thus begins an extraordinary, near-mythical journey of a young man who must reinvent himself to survive--not once, but many times."
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The Jewel in the Crown

By Paul Scott

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The first volume in Paul Scott's historical tour-de-force, the Raj Quartet, opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for self-rule. In the Mayapore gardens, Daphne Manners, daughter of the provincial governor, leaves her Indian lover, who will soon be arrested for her alleged rape.
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The Last Kashmiri Rose

By Barbara Cleverly

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Commander Joe Sandilands, a Scotland Yarder completing a stint with the Bengal Police, is on his way back home when the provincial governor asks him to look into the recent death-by-suicide of an army officer's young wife. Nancy Drummond, a close friend of the dead woman, reveals that four other officers wives have also died apparently by accident or misadventure over a period of 12 years, all in the month of March.
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The Moor's Last Sigh

By Salman Rushdie

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"In his first novel since The Satanic Verses, Rushdie gives readers a masterpiece of controlled storytelling, informed by astonishing scope and ambition, by turns compassionate, wicked, poignant, and funny. From the paradise of Aurora's legendary salon to his omnipotent father's sky-garden atop a towering glass high-rise, the Moor's story evokes his family's often grotesque but compulsively moving fortunes in a world of possibilities embodied by India in this century."

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The Namesake

By Jhumpa Lahiri

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"...takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world."

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The Tree Bride

By Bharati Mukherjee

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In piecing together her ancestor's transformation from a docile Bengali Brahmin girl-child into an impassioned organizer of resistance against the British Raj, the contemporary narrator discovers and lays claim to unacknowledged elements in her "American" identity.
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The Twentieth Wife

By Indu Sundaresan

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"An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India's most controversial empresses -- a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa's embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman -- a legend in her own time -- who was all but lost to history until now."

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