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We asked some of our authors to tell us what were their favourite reads of the year 2017. Here’s the list they shared with us!

Bachi Karkaria

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
About: Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing—to fall in love—in a world turned upside down. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind—when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known.
Home Fires by Kamila Shamsie
About: A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.
A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee
About: A State of Freedom prises open the central, defining events of our century-displacement and migration-but not as you imagine them. Five characters, in very different circumstances-from a domestic cook in Mumbai to a vagrant and his dancing bear and a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city-find out the meanings of dislocation and the desire for more.
The Book  of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil
About: Jeet Thayil tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, blocked poet, serial seducer of young women, reformed alcoholic (but only just), philosopher, recluse, all-round wild man and India’s greatest living painter. Narrated in a huge variety of voices and styles, all of which blend seamlessly into a novel of remarkable accomplishment, The Book of Chocolate Saints is the sort of literary masterpiece that only comes along once in a very long time.
Certain Admissions by Gideon Haigh
About: Certain Admissions is Australian true crime at its best, and stranger than any crime fiction. It is real – life police procedural, courtroom drama, family saga, investigative journalism, social history, archival treasure hunt – a meditation, too, on how the past shapes the present, and the present the past.
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes
About: Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.
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Perumal Murugan 

Novelist, short-story writer and poet Perumal Murugan shares with us his 2017 favourites:

Thahamkonda Meenondru (A Thirsty Fish), Jalaluddin Rumi, Translated into Tamil by N Satyamurti

I felt quakes in my being reading these poems of Rumi in their Tamil translation. They were composed many hundreds of years ago but are incredibly affecting even now. This selection is living proof that poems are not captives of time.

Eluha, Nee Pulavan! (Arise, Poet!) A R Venkatachalapathy

I hugely enjoyed these essays on the great Tamil poet Subramania Bharati by Venkatachalapathy, a dedicated scholar of the subject.  Each essay provides fresh insight, has critical depth and is a delight to read.

Devi Yesodharan

Since I was four and got my first cardboard picture book, I have always had a list of favorites that get their own shelf, and which I will try and lend to everyone I know. I am one of those people who often has to replace beloved books that they loaned out and never saw again. But I never learn – when it comes to books, I believe in free love. This year is no exception: I have already lent out my favorites. Borrowers, you know who you are!

I am a big fan of dystopias, and in 2017 I read two marvellous ones, Omar El Akkad’s American War and Prayaag Akbar’s Leila. Of the two, I found Leila extraordinary, because the dystopia Akbar paints feels terrifyingly familiar in how Indian it is. My daily commute in Bangalore includes a drive past several gated communities, which have become ubiquitous in our cities, and every once in a while when travelling to Electronic City, I take the elevated flyover. In Akbar’s book the future is a place of wealthy enclaves and “flyroads” accessible only to a few, and where prosperity, education, healthcare, and even breathable air are accessible only to the richest.

The most frightening thing in Leila is that this world, where caste and class distinctions are cemented, doesn’t feel like a stretch to me considering how much we ignore the unfairness and exclusions of our present.

Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing is Monsters is written as an illustrated diary, authored by Karen, a ten-year-old girl who is attempting to solve the murder of her neighbor. The narrator is a horror movie fan, and she draws herself with the features of a werewolf: the book’s pages are filled with monsters, good and bad. It’s not just the mesmerizing illustration style that works so well – set in 1960s Chicago, it’s also the political commentary, the personal relationships, and the everyday story of a girl growing up in difficult circumstances, that made this a hard book for me to put down.

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Are any of these on your list of best reads for the year? Tell us!

 

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