The Map and the Scissors, Amit Majumdar

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the exemplary and ruthlessly analytical gentleman in a tailored suit is sceptical of those who come to his door proposing a “Land of the Pure”. Despite his initial doubts, Jinnah ends up founding exactly such a country. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the religious visionary in homespun khadi, is relentless in his quest for one India – only to witness, in anguish, the gruesome birth of two nations.

The Map and the Scissors is a fictionalised epic origin story of modern South Asia, as desired by two London-educated lawyers, ideological rivals who dreamt the same dream of freedom – in catastrophically incompatible ways.

The Weird Women’s Club, Aruna Nambiar

Once half of a perfect couple, Hema is widowed and heartbroken. Avanti’s marriage has ended in divorce and she fantasises about all the gruesome ways in which her ex might suffer. Jeroo has earned the reputation for being somewhat “unstable”, thanks to the mood swings that accompany the struggles of infertility.

The dignified forbearance and saintly self-sacrifice expected of women is nowhere in sight. They are a mess as the three clumsily struggle to piece their lives back together – this won’t be easy since there are quirky children, meddling relatives, and unsavoury men who are more of a nuisance than help. Hema, Avanti, and Jeroo have little in common except their inability (and refusal) to be the “ideal” woman. Will they find camaraderie and comfort in each other’s company and find new ways to love and live?

With its warmth and wit, The Weird Women’s Club challenges society’s outdated beliefs about what womanhood should be like.

Ninety Days: The True Story of the Hunt for Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassins, Anirudhya Mitra

At 10.20 pm on May 21, 1991, a young woman bowed before Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in Sriperumbudur, only a few kilometers away from Chennai. And then there was an explosion. The charismatic former prime minister of India had been assassinated.

Ninety Days is the definitive account of one of the most disturbing political crimes in modern India. The book untangles the complex plot hatched by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). Mitra provides a blow-by-blow account of how the Special Investigation Team of the CBI cracked the assassination plot, identified the assassins and chased the mastermind, Sivarasan, to his final hideout. The deaths of the members of the hit squad from cyanide left several unanswered questions in their wake, which this book also explores.

I Am Onir and I Am Gay: A Memoir, Onir and Irene Dhar Malik

Award-winning filmmaker Onir’s directorial debut, My Brother Nikhil (2005), broke new ground in LGBT representation on the Indian silver screen. For the first time, he opens up about his personal life.

From his childhood days in Bhutan to his journey as a young man trying to make it in the Hindi film industry with no connections, Onir takes the reader through his fascinating career complete with all its struggles and triumphs. Now one of the few openly gay directors in Bollywood, Onir is fearless about his identity and passionate in his role of a filmmaker. With I Am Onir and I Am Gay, he hopes to start conversations about identity and resilience.

Eloquent and inspiring, the memoir is about confronting and transcending personal and social barriers. Written with his sister Irene Dhar Malik, this emotional and honest personal story offers a narrative of hope, love, and the pursuit of dreams.

Play It Right, Kamal Gupta

The centre of America’s capitalist system and home to rapacious bankers, Wall Street is synonymous with extraordinary wealth and power. For Kamal Gupta, an Indian-born computer scientist, Wall Street represented something else entirely – a chance to play in the largest casino in the world.

Bored with his tech job, Gupta devoted two years to the single-minded pursuit of becoming a professional blackjack player. It paid off – he increased his wealth thirty-two times, getting barred from several casinos in the process. In an unexpected turn of events, his gambling exploits brought him to Wall Street, where his skills led to him raising eight billion dollars for the largest hedge fund launch in history.

Play It Right is a darkly comic account of Gupta’s incredible journey from New Delhi to Las Vegas and finally to the glittering financial district of New York. This is a story about human ambition and beating the odds – at a casino, on Wall Street, and in life.

Jezebel, KR Meera, translated from the Malayalam by Abhirami Girija Sriram and KS Bijukumar

Jezebel is a young doctor in Kerala. Yet her education, resolve, and professional brilliance are no match for the cruelties of patriarchy. Her contentious divorce proceedings go awry suddenly, and complex secrets tumble out of her unhappy marriage. KR Meera’s blistering courtroom drama illustrates the rich inner worlds of its characters. Through Jezebel’s memories, we see her grow from a reticent, serious young woman to a rebel who refuses to bend to the whims of society.

Like the Biblical story of Queen Jezebel, who was demonised as a scheming harlot and infamously thrown to her death from her palace window, the novel Jezebel asks if women can indeed enjoy an independent life. KR Meera’s hypnotic prose along with skilful translation by Abhirami Girija Sriram and KS Bijukumar makes resonant allusions to the Bible to elucidate how women in legends and real life are haunted by constraints of sex.

Mumbai: A City through Objects, Tasneem Zakaria Mehta

Museum artefacts are time machines. They take us back to civilisations of the long past or show us a new perspective of the present. Mumbai: A City through Objects tells the story of a city through unique artefacts on display at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (previously Victoria and Albert Museum) in Mumbai. The city and the museum developed together, each inflecting the other’s evolution. Like all great global cities, Mumbai’s extraordinary history has been created by those who have lived in the city and made it their home. Mumbai: A City through Objects is the first interpretation of the city through its artefacts that were created by its many craftsmen.

Like the city, the museum too has experienced a metamorphosis. It won UNESCO’s 2005 Asia Pacific Award for a comprehensive restoration and has pioneered contemporary art exhibitions. Mehta brings us the story of Mumbai, over the years, through 101 objects that you can see at the museum.