The Earth Quakes: Late Anti-Stories, Subimal Misra, translated from the Bengali by V Ramaswamy

Subimal Misra – anarchist, activist, anti-establishment, experimental “anti-writer”– was a literary genius among India’s greatest contemporary masters. Misra’s works are confrontational and challenge and provoke readers morally, politically, and in their expectations of literature.

The Earth Quakes: Late Anti-Stories brings together his final creations: 20 stories written between 1991 and 2010, their subjects ranging from the “global” – the Gulf War of 1991, which heralded the post-Cold War unipolar world – to the very “local” – the Singur movement of 2006 that led to the unseating of the all-powerful CPI(M), which had ruled the state of West Bengal since 1977.

Lorenzo Searches for the Meaning of Life, Upamanyu Chatterjee

One summer morning in 1977, 19-year-old Lorenzo Senesi of Aquilina, Italy, drives his Vespa motorscooter into a speeding Fiat and breaks his forearm. It keeps him in bed for a month, and his boggled mind thinks of unfamiliar things: Where has he come from? Where is he going? And how to find out more about where he ought to go?

When he recovers, he enrols for a physiotherapy course. He also joins a prayer group and visits Praglia Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the foothills outside Padua.

The monastery will become his home for ten years, its isolation and discipline the anchors of his life, and then send him to a Benedictine ashram in faraway Bangladesh – a village in Khulna district, where monsoon clouds as black as night descend right down to river and earth. He will spend many years here. He will pray seven times a day, learn to speak Bengali and wash his clothes in the river, paint a small chapel, start a physiotherapy clinic to ease bodies out of pain, and fall, unexpectedly, in love. And he will find that a life of service to God is enough, but that it is also not enough.

This is a study of the extraordinary experiences of an ordinary man, the majesty and the banality of the spiritual path.

Red River, Somnath Batabyal

A sprawling novel set in the north-east of India, this is a lyrical exploration of male friendships and love – a man’s love for a woman and a more militant love for community and nation. The action moves from Guwahati to Dhaka, Bhutan and London, surging and quietening as we encounter characters and situations so close to the bone and universal in their conflict and despair.

Maya Nagari Bombay-Mumbai: A City in Stories, edited by Shanta Gokhale and Jerry Pinto

In the 21 stories of this collection, there is the city that labours in the mills and streets, the city that sips and nibbles in five-star lounges; the city of Ganapati and Haji Malang and the Virgin Mary; the city that is a sea of people and speaks at least a dozen languages. There are stories translated from Marathi, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, and Malayalam, and stories written originally in English. Among the writers are legends and new voices – Baburao Bagul, Ismat Chughtai, Pu La Deshpande, Urmila Pawar, Mohan Rakesh, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ambai, Jayant Kaikini, Bhupen Khakhar, Cyrus Mistry, Vilas Sarang, Tejaswini ApteRahm, and Anuradha Kumar.

So how do you get the spirit of India’s great metropolis, the Maya Nagari, the city of dreams, between the covers of a book? Shanta Gokhale and Jerry Pinto decided to bring together their favourite short stories about the city they call home, and hope that a narrative will emerge. And it does – a rich, varied, vibrant portrait of the republic that goes by many names – Bombay, Mumbai, Momoi, Bambai and many others.

A Portrait of Love: Six Stories; One Novella, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’, translated from the Hindi by Gautam Choubey

Suryakant Tripathi “Nirala” was among the maverick writers who shaped modern Hindi literature. In his prose writings, Nirala regards the world with the eyes of a compulsive satirist, committed to laying bare its hypocrisies.

A Portrait of Love is an ode to Nirala’s genius, drawing attention to his long-ignored legacy in prose. From his poignant yet humorous sketch of rural India in Billesur Bakriha to the sophisticated urbanity of Lucknow in “Portrait of a Lady-Love”; from questioning the ideals of marriage and love in “Sukul’s Wife” to celebrating the nexus between writers and courtesans in colonial Calcutta in “What I Saw”; from hailing agency among the oppressed castes in “Chaturi Chamar” to shining a light on an uneasy relationship between education and progress in “Jyotirmayee” – the collection takes the readers to the heart of India and the colourful cosmos of Hindi literature.

Mithun Number Two and Other Mumbai Stories, Jayant Kaikini, translated from the Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana

Jayant Kaikini’s stories are tinged with melancholy but lit with hope, capturing moments of transcendence amid anonymity and routine. Young men migrate to Mumbai looking for work or a more exciting life, while others, women and men, young and old, make the journey for different reasons. In this city that rules the dreams of people up and down the coast, strangers become friends, families negotiate strife and affection, and children grow up in homes where the lines between coercion and care are blurred.