Samsara: Enter the Valley of Gods, Saksham Garg

Phones stop working. Smartwatches die. And arms start glowing with blue scars. This is what happens to Aman Chandra and ten other Souls of Samsara when they are kidnapped from modern-day India and transported to a hidden valley in the Himalayas. In this realm of magic, home to Hindu gods, immortal yogis and mythical beasts, the mission is clear for the Souls of Samsara: to learn the ancient art of yogic sorcery and prepare for a treacherous journey not many can survive.

But why must they go on this journey? And how are the gods connected to it all?

Before they get any answers, the Souls of Samsara realize that there is a larger scheme at play. The king of the gods has passed a controversial order. And Aman must make a tough decision that will change not just his life but the fate of an entire nation . . .

Everything the Light Touches, Janice Pariat

In Everything the Light Touches we meet many travellers: Shai, a young Indian woman who journeys to India’s northeast and rediscovers, through her encounters with indigenous communities, ways of living that realign and renew her. Evelyn, an Edwardian student at Cambridge who, inspired by Goethe’s botanical writings, embarks on a journey seeking out the sacred forests of the Lower Himalayas. Linnaeus, botanist and taxonomist, who famously declared, “God creates; Linnaeus organizes” and led an expedition to Lapland in 1732. And Goethe himself, who travelled through Italy in the 1780s, formulating his ideas for a revelatory text that called for a re-examination of our propensity to reduce plants – and the world – into immutable parts.

Drawing richly from scientific ideas, the novel plunges into a whirl of ever-expanding themes, and the contrasts between modern India and its colonial past, urban life and the countryside, capitalism and centuries-old traditions of generosity and gratitude.

No Way In, Udayan Mukherjee

It is the summer leading up to the high-stakes national election of 2014. Sabita, a middle-aged cook, lives with her son, Dinu, in a terrace room of Jol Pori, the South Kolkata mansion of the prosperous Banerjee household comprising Rana, Ila and their son, Shubho. When communal divisions rear their ugly head on the brink of a controversial election, it becomes apparent that Jol Pori, under its benign surface, is nothing but a microcosm of modern-day India with all its destructive divisions.

With Dinu’s future in mind, Sabita clings on desperately to her perilous position though it is this very threat of violence she had left behind in Assam, her home. But the secrets she has hidden about her past soon reappear to turn her life upside down, forcing her to make the most difficult of choices.

My Name is Not Devdas, Aayush Gupta

A slick and contemporary reimagining of an enduring classic, My Name Is Not Devdas brings together the participants of a skewed love triangle. But…Devdas is not the tragic, misunderstood lover of yore; Paro is not the spurned woman who’d shut herself in; and Chandramukhi is not your next-door hooker with a heart of gold.

As each narrates their own version of events, a tale of half-truths emerges that swiftly boils to a crescendo with bruised egos, deadly obsessions and electrifying revelations, My Name is Not Devdas is a novel in its own right.

Search for a New Land, Abdus Samad, translated from the Urdu by Syed Sarwar Hussain

A Muslim feudal family in provincial Bihar Sharif faces devastating grief and anguish during the Partition of India in 1947 and then again, the partition of Bengal in 1971 when lines are drawn across their lands and hearts. Originally published in Urdu as Do Gaz Zameen, Abdus Samad’s deeply emotional and political novel traces the journey of the Hussain family from the 1920s to 1970s, as they travel through the Bihar province, to Calcutta, Karachi, and Dhaka and take the reader along intensely critical political events that shaped the formation of new lands and new identities in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

A Beautiful Decay, Karan Madhok

Vishnu, a 21-year-old Indian student out drinking in a bar in Washington DC, is murdered in a hate crime. At the moment of his death, Vishnu takes flight and traces the sequence of events that led to his last breath. Speeding through the past, present, and future, his consciousness witnesses the hate and violence on two continents.

As Vishnu looks back on his short life, we see the brutal acts of his father who built an empire in the Hindi heartland of India on the blood and trampled beliefs of others so his family could lead the good life. When Vishnu gets to America, he finds that the detestation and othering that targeted one set of people in his homeland is replaced by more of the same in the country he has landed in, except this time he doesn’t belong to the class of oppressors but that of the oppressed.

The Hunter of Lalbazar, Suhit Sen

The elite investigation unit of the Calcutta Police, headed by Joint Commissioner of Police Tanya Samanta, is busy handling a hooch-death case. But they are soon summoned to investigate a series of horrific crimes that have stunned the city. A brutally assaulted woman is found on the banks of the lake in Minto Park. A second woman wakes up at dawn in Survey Park after suffering from a lethal blow to the head, her memory hazy. A young female scholar, a visitor to the city, is raped, badly beaten and left for dead at the Dhakuria Lake premises.

Tanya and her team are determined to hunt down the criminal. The chase spans international borders, but he manages to escape. After lying low for a few months, he returns to the city to attack a woman so violently, she almost dies. Tanya hatches a fool-proof plan to nail him. But will she be able to win the game of cat and mouse before time runs out?