Fire Bird, Perumal Murugan, translated from the Tamil by Janani Kannan
Fire Bird is a tale of one man’s search for the elusive concept of permanence. Muthu has his world turned upside down when his father divides the family land, leaving him with practically nothing and causing irreparable damage to his family’s bonds. Through the unscrupulous actions of his once-revered eldest brother, Muthu is forced to leave his once-perfect world behind and seek out a new life for himself, his wife and his children.
Two Plays: ‘The Grand Exit’ and ‘A Conversation with Dolly’, Satish Alekar, translated from the Marathi by Shanta Gokhale
A dead man insists on being cremated in the old crematorium soon to be privatised. He is his own Antigone; his reeking corpse pleads its own case. In Satish Alekar’s irreverent masterpiece The Grand Exit, father and son confront the mundane to honour the former’s final wish.
A Conversation with Dolly is Alekar’s first play to be published before it has been performed. An old man finds himself locked down during the pandemic, surrounded by Amazon cartons, talking and listening to his devoted nurse Dolly.
The Best Possible Experience: Stories, Nishanth Injam
The stories in The Best Possible Experience bring the readers intimate, impeccably realised accounts of individuals haunted, in every sense of the word, by a loss of home. Nishanth Injam delivers a universal inquiry into the idea of belonging, and shows, above all, that home is not a place so much as a people ready to accept us as we are.
Tall Tales by a Small Dog, Omair Ahmad
Kallu, a mongrel of modest proportions who roams the streets of Gorakhpur, has some stories to tell of his town. But dogs cannot be trusted to speak the truth, so the narrator of this collection tries to sift fact from fantasy. But what is fact and what fantasy when a jailer escapes his own execution and comes back home riding an elephant, claiming to have been pardoned by Queen Victoria? When the star pickpocket of Gorakhpur is bested by a White tourist? When a young man falls in love with a street dog and uses him as a weapon, and a gangster decides to wear an assassin’s bullet around his neck? When one Gorakhpuri boy walks all the way to China and comes face to face with Deng Xiaoping, and another is propelled to America by a smutty magazine?
Assassin, KR Meera, translated from the Malayalam by J Devika
Late one night in November 2016, Satyapriya, a middle-aged professional living alone in a big city, is attacked by an unidentified assailant. Though she escapes unhurt, a conversation with her paralysed father reveals that this was no random incident but the latest in a series of attempts to kill her. And when he dies unexpectedly soon after, a devastated Satyapriya sets out to unravel the conspiracy coiling around her.
The Sea Elephants, Shastri Akella
Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the agonising deaths of his beloved twin sisters, he flees his own guilt, his mother’s grief, and his father’s violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. He forms tumultuous and eye-opening relationships there, but doesn’t find true belonging till he encounters a travelling theater troupe performing the myths of his childhood.
Welcomed by other storytellers, Shagun thrives – easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women – and embraces a life on the move, far from his father’s clutches. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father’s ever-present threat to send him to a conversion centre. As Shagun’s past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and to boldly claim his own happiness.