May 2022 Reads
- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
April 2022 Reads
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
March 2022 Reads
- The Painter of Signs by R.K. Narayan
February 2022 Reads
- Hellfire by Leesa Gazi
January 2022 Reads
- Olga Dies Dreaming
A terrific start to the year. Olga is the daughter of Puerto Rican revolutionaries who is trying to make it big as a wedding planner in the mainland. For her mother, who is still at large, Olga is a disappointment and a class traitor— a burden which Olga carries with herself through her decision to go to an Ivy League school, to working as a wedding planner, to offering herself as a acceptable token of diversity to the white world. The book alternates between the narrative of Olga, her brother Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo [an Obama-esque centrist politician], and that of her mother through letters written over the years.
As a progressive, born to conservative parents, I cannot emphasise the number of times I’ve wished to be born to more class/caste conscious parents. But Olga’s story reiterates the dialectic nature of beliefs from generation to generation. Olga has grown up with a mother who cares for humanity in the abstract more than she cares about her daughter and Olga wishes to be different from that even as she cannot escape the truth of racial-capitalism especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. As a friend pointed out, Olga Dies Dreaming, is one of those rare books that centres our material realities. Over all faced-paced narrative, compelling characters and plots.
December 2021 Reads
- Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Damler
Engaging. Sometimes thought provoking. Sometimes highly irritating. It’s a story of a girl who moves to NYC to become a waitress at a high end restaurant and her education in all things drugs, men, and wine. The main character wasn’t too likeable but I admired her spunk. I just couldn’t shake off the feeling that this is yet another average American story being touted as exceptional.
- Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
Pride, Prejudice and Pakistan. Delightful novel with ridiculous names (Valentine Darsee??). Given the many similarities between victorian England and 21st century South Asia, this old story found itself right at home in these new surroundings. The book has sadly deepened my regret of not pursuing English literature in college.
- The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn
This book was like going to an art museum. You see paintings after paintings and not each one touches you deeply. But sometimes you notice the brush strokes, and sometimes the colour palette and if you are lucky, one might even make you hold your breath by its sheer magnificence. That’s what it was like, reading pages after pages of short-self contained passages, that sometimes made you think and sometimes really struck a chord, but ultimately it was too disjointed and experimental for me to enjoy. Also I was presently surprised to find out that a major theme in the book (the feelings invoked by alien objects) is actually based on an art exhibition itself.
- Drown by Junto Diaz*
*This author has major sexual harassment allegations against him.
November 2021 Reads
- How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti
- Sylvia: Distant Avuncular Ends by Maithreyi Karnoor
October 2021 Reads
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- Cocktails for Three by Madeline Wickham
- Matrix by Lauren Groff
- The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
September 2021 Reads
- Bunny by Mona Awad
A frenzied fevered dream. Mean Girls Meets Jennifer’s Body. I suspect the book would make a lot more sense to people who are familiar with the excessive indulgence of MFA programmes in elite US universities.
- Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
Riotous workplace novel. Imagine your body gets uploaded in SLACK. Literally. In the post-pandemic work from home work, do you think anyone will notice? I thought it was interesting and depressing that he became a better more productive worker. Interestingly, the author describes this is a trans novel.
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
An old lady lives in a tiny village in northern Poland. In her free time she manages the houses of all the villages’ summer residents and practices astronomy which she believes holds answers to the whole world. Suddenly known poachers around town start being murdered and she believes the animals are killing them.
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Short Story)
A mother suffering from postpartum depression is locked up by her husband in a room containing the most hideous yellow wallpaper. One night she becomes convinced that a woman is trapped behind the wallpaper and she decides to free her.