The Bangalore Detectives Club, Harini Nagendra

When Kaveri married the handsome young doctor Ramu, she thought she had resigned herself to a quiet life in Bangalore. Her life of peace and quiet springs into action after a fateful night at a Century Club party. When Kaveri escapes to the garden for a quick break, she spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. A few minutes later, a ghastly murder is reported at the party.

As a vulnerable woman finds herself in the thick of things, Kaveri vows to prove the woman innocent. She launches a private investigation to find the killer, and the journey takes her from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. A novice in sleuthing, Kaveri soon realises that catching the culprit is easy when you have a talent for mathematics, an appreciation for logic, and a doctor for a husband. As the case leads her deeper into a hotbed of danger, sedition, and the city’s darkest alleyways, she unravels secrets related to the crime and a few more.

The Bangalore Detectives Club is the first in a cosy crime series set in 1920s Bangalore, featuring sari-wearing detective Kaveri and her husband in crime-solving Ramu. This is also Harini Nagendra’s debut work of fiction.

The Living Mountain: A Fable, Amitav Ghosh

The Living Mountain is a cautionary tale of our systematic exploitation of nature, leading to an irreversible environmental collapse. Narrated as a dream sequence, this is a fable about Mahaparbat, the Living Mountain. But Mahaparbat is more than just a mountain – home to the indigenous valley dwellers who live and prosper in its shelter; the mountain is mercilessly exploited for commercial benefit by the Anthropoi, humans whose sole aim is to reap the bounty of nature. Soon disaster unfolds, of their own doing.

Amitav Ghosh’s The Living Mountain is a fable of our times as we continue to battle a pandemic and face climate catastrophe – both products of our insufficient understanding of mankind’s relationship with nature, its appropriation, and abuse.

Editor Missing : The Media in Today’s India, Ruben Banerjee

The Indian media is in crisis. Free speech is shrinking, contrarian views are quickly thwarted, and the right to dissent is endangered. Many are of the belief that the nation is in an undeclared emergency. Things are dire in the world’s largest democracy. As charges and countercharges fly, with no unanimity in sight, India’s national discourse, especially in the newsrooms, is becoming increasingly divided and polarized.

In Editor Missing, veteran journalist Ruben Banerjee attempts to understand the state of Indian media and the widening divide in ideologies. He brings clarity to why and how the media has changed so drastically in the course of a few years. As an editor for various publications, Banerjee has had a ringside view for years of the decline in its standards, quality, and objectivity. At the end of it, Banerjee confirms some of our worst fears – that defending the truth can come at a huge personal cost in present-day India.

The Wait and Other Stories, Damodar Mauzo, translated from the Konkani by Xavier Cota

A cab driver, who assumes the identity of whoever his clients want him to be, finds himself in a tricky situation with a passenger. A late-night call leads a doctor down a path of lust and desire, but with unexpected results. A writer acquaints himself with a thief who had broken into his house. A migrant worker falls in love but wonders how he can present himself as a suitor. A young man, having lost his partner, takes it upon himself to resolve another couple’s dilemmas.

Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo’s bizarre yet tender stories chronicle a Goa that is far removed from the idyllic paradise for tourists. The Wait brings us villagers facing moral choices, children waking up to the realities of adult lives, men who dwell on remorse and women who stew in regret, and communities whose bonds are tested by religious frictions. Probing the deepest corners of the human psyche with whimsical humour, Mauzo’s stories reveal the delicate threads that bind us to the world at large.

Translating Myself and Others, Jhumpa Lahiri

Translating Myself and Others is a collection of personal essays by author-translator Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri draws on Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus to distinguish between the arts of writing and translating. She takes a look at passages from Aristotle’s Poetics as she examines writing, desire, and freedom. She traces the theme of translation in Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and discusses Italo Calvino’s popularity as a translated author. This compels her to ponder upon the unique challenge of translating her own work from Italian to English, as well as the great pleasures of translating contemporary and ancient writers.

Featuring essays in translation from Italian and those written in English, Translating Myself and Others is Lahiri’s lyrical and eloquent meditation on translation as an art and as a sublime act of linguistic and personal metamorphosis.

Adbhut: Marvellous Creatures of Indian Myth and Folklore, Meena Arora Nayak

In Adhbut, Meena Arora Nayak presents a selection of fifty-five awe-inspiring creatures from Indian mythology and folklore. Divided into five sections, this book recounts beings that have captured our imaginations – ones that fly across stormy skies, swim in deep seas, burrow through the earth, tread softly on land, and sometimes occupy these realms all at once.

These fantastical beings include the Manipuri python guardian god, Pakhangpa; Garuda, the king of birds; the immortal Kurma, the tortoise; Mahisa, the Buffalo King; Leviathan, the gigantic sea monster; Shamir, the Judaic stone-cutting worm; the Zoroastrian cosmic dragon, Azhi Dahaka; Nachash, the crafty serpent in the Garden of Eden; the shining Islamic al-Buraq; and the Harappan chimera whose origins remain a mystery. Adhbut invites the reader to explore the worlds that lie just beyond reality – where the mysterious and terrifying clash with the fascinating and irresistible.

Sumitra and Anees : Tales and Recipes from a Khichdi Family, Seema Chisti

Of the many problems that plague India today, the widening of social and communal fault lines is the most worrying. Inter-faith marriages, once seen as the hallmark of a plural society, are now being weaponised to further a divisive political narrative.

Journalist Seema Chishti, who married outside of her faith, recalls the story of her parents who were also an inter-faith couple – Sumitra, a Kshatriya Hindu from Mysore in Karnataka, and Anees, a Syed Muslim from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh. The food they ate and the recipes from Sumitra’s kitchen became a site of confluence for the diverse culinary traditions she mastered. Sumitra and Anees is an ode to her parents and the dream of a truly secular India, one that the Chistis created in their modest home.