Marquez, EMS, Gulam and Others: Selected Short Stories, Benyamin, translated from the Malayalam by Swarup BR

Featuring JCB Prize-winning author Benyamin’s finest short fiction, Márquez, EMS, Gulam and Others brings together people, places, lives, and times. These stories unravel, with deep sensitivity, the human condition across fault lines of class, caste, colour and country, of illusion and reality. They make you ponder about the world we live in, the people who inhabit it, the borders separating us – and the truths and lies we tell ourselves and others.

The Sound of Waves, Kalki, translated from the Tamil by Gowri Ramnarayan

To escape the despair of his all-consuming, failed relationship with Dharini, Raghavan agrees to meet Lalita for an arranged match. Finding Lalita’s cousin, the vivacious and captivating Sita, a far more amenable fit, he marries her instead. With a charming wife and a powerful government job in pre-Partition Delhi adding to his smug contentment, Raghavan turns a blind eye to the evils of the British Raj.

Along comes Sita’s cousin Surya, a dauntless revolutionary burning to right all wrongs. His commitment to the socialist credo leads him to Dharini, a young and spirited party member, the woman Raghavan continues to long for. Cracks appear in the brittle foundations of their lives as the characters move across rural Thanjavur, Madras, Bombay, Karachi, New Delhi, Agra, Calcutta, and Lahore. The Sound of Waves is an impassioned tribute to everyday people and their woes, and a poignant reflection on the aspirations of an emerging nation.

Death in Shambles: A Hill Station Mystery, Stephen Alter

Lionel Carmichael, a retired police deputy inspector general, is looking forward to living a quiet, solitary life in the hill station of Debrakot, with an assortment of eccentric neighbours for occasional company. His plans are upended when he is asked by a former colleague to help out in a double murder case.

The scene of the crime is the ghostly Shambala Villa, or “Shambles,” as it is known to the residents of the town, named thus due to its decrepit appearance. The victims of the brutal crimes are Reuben Sabharwal, a self-styled god-man who dabbles in the mysterious and occult, and an unknown woman, dressed in a pale green sari, found hanging by a noose near Reuben’s body.

Trudging through the monsoon rains of Debrakot, Lionel embarks on his journey towards the truth, only to become more and more entangled in a web of deceit and lies. Even as a myriad powerful forces attempt to stop him, Lionel continues to push for the truth – until the sleepy little hill station finally gives up its grim secrets.

Not Quite a Disaster After All, Buku Sarkar

In six connected, haunting vignettes that span two continents and two decades, we follow Anjali, misfit, the expensively educated daughter of a wealthy family, from her childhood in Calcutta to her coming of age in New York City, claiming the grimy dive bars of the East Village as her own. We also see her childhood friend Anita, who struggles with the quieter life, marriage, and motherhood she has chosen, in a suburb of Ohio.

These are women who muster all their grit and resolve to make their way in the world, seeking their identity. Not Quite a Disaster after All is a novel about how our expectations from life shift and change, how they can be pushed in the most unpredictable ways. It is about the thin line between self-destruction and survival.

Kalindi {Brahmankanya}, Shridhar V Ketkar, translated from the Marathi by Shanta Gokhale

It is the early 1900s in Mumbai. Educated and financially independent, Kalindi Dagge dreams of living in a casteless and equitable society as a single mother – a life far removed from the one she had in the stifling world she left behind. A world where she was the daughter of a brahmin lawyer, Appasaheb Dagge, and the casteless Shanta; and the granddaughter of another brahmin and his schoolteacher mistress who rejected the idea of marriage. A world in which she was an outcast; the daughter of a man who rejected his caste but not his caste pride. A world where she had reclaimed her grandmother’s legacy and chosen, in defiance of family and society, to live as the mistress of Shivsharanappa, a Lingayat tobacco merchant, who later abandoned her and left her on the verge of suicide. As she rebuilds her identity now in the big city, she wonders what it would be like to start a new life based on love and respect with Ramrao, a trade union leader who shares her ideologies and dreams.

The Greatest Marathi Stories Ever Told, selected and edited by Ashutosh Potdar

The 28 stories in The Greatest Marathi Stories Ever Told represent some of the finest short fiction in Marathi literature. Selected and edited by writer and translator Ashutosh Potdar, this collection features established literary masters such as Gangadhar Gadgil, G. A. Kulkarni, Baburao Bagul, Kamal Desai, Vilas Sarang, Anna Bhau Sathe, Urmila Pawar, Jayant Narlikar, Hamid Dalwai, and others.

The stories in this collection are melancholic, sarcastic, humorous, elegant, and experimental – together, they showcase the range, variety, and vibrancy of the Marathi short story and famed Marathi literary tradition.

The Alice Project, Satwik Gade

Alice’s greatest pleasure in life is hanging out with his friends Nitin, Iyengar and Bakchod, mostly at the chai shop outside their old college. He has a job he doesn’t hate, friends he likes and a life that is vaguely happy. Sure, it might be time for him to embrace adulthood, and yes, he can’t quite visualise his future clearly, but none of these concerns are big enough to push him out of his comfort zone. Until a series of events – the death of a college friend, a budding romance – start to shape his personal life, and Alice is forced to reckon with the fact that his life will change, whether he wants it to or not.

Anthill, Vinoy Thomas, translated from the Malayalam by Nandakumar K

Bounded by dense Kodagu forests on the south and west, and rivers on the north and east, Perumbadi, at the border between Kerala and Karnataka, has hidden itself from the world. Its very isolation has attracted varied settlers from south Kerala over the years. The first settler on this land, Kunji Varkey, was fleeing the opprobrium of getting his own daughter pregnant. Those who followed had similar shameful secrets.

As Perumbadi moves into modernity and feels the need for refined justice, Jeremias comes to be known by the moniker President and becomes the unchallenged adjudicator of Perumbadi, thanks to his equanimity and sense of fairness. However, even as he resolves local disputes, he is troubled by developments in his own home and by his own moral failure.

Anthill, the exquisite translation from the Malayalam of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi-winning novel Puttu, is the story of common people who tried to wriggle out of the shackles of family, religion and other restraining institutions, but eventually also struggle to civilise themselves-from their beginnings of a hillbilly existence and life as a promiscuous community.