Books & Literature

“In Sensorium” Takes Readers on a Journey Through Scent

July 28, 2022

Perfume was a hallmark of the millennial teen magazine. Teen Vogue and Seventeen had us experimenting with scents that offered teasers of womanly sophistication. Playing dress-up with fragrance samples was enough–adulthood held the certainty of tasteful routine. And flipping through issues months or years later, long past “top ten nail polish shades to try now!” … Read More

Dystopia Hits Close to Home in “The Immortal King Rao”

May 13, 2022

In the mid-1900s, a Dalit boy named King is born to coconut farmers in a rural Indian village; over a century later, his daughter is accused of his murder as a society built upon his inventions hurtles toward climate catastrophe. In The Immortal King Rao, author Vauhini Vara weaves a fascinating narrative filling in what … Read More

Ifti Nasim’s “Myrmecophile” Twenty Years Later

March 30, 2022

From simply looking at the cover photo of Myrmecophile, Ifti Nasim makes it clear that he is not here to hide any part of himself. The first image we have of him is a playful, subversive snapshot where he is decked out in full drag, donning a blonde wig, costume jewelry, pearls, and bangles. He … Read More

The “Tirukkural” and the Wisdom of Ancient Uncles

February 4, 2022

On a small island off the southernmost tip of India, a statue of the poet known only as Tiruvalluvar stands staring out at the confluence of two seas and one ocean. The statue is 133 feet high, symbolic of the 133 chapters that make up the 2000-year-old Tirukkural, a meditation on ethics, government, and the … Read More

“It All Comes Back to You” Serves Up Wedding Intrigue

January 4, 2022

Farah Naz Rishi’s YA romance It All Comes Back To You is part Austenian marriage plot and part You Got Mail farce. Following the days before the much anticipated wedding of Amira and Faisal, the book focuses on their respective siblings, Kiran and Deen, as they scheme against each other to hide secrets and derail the wedding. … Read More

“Gold Diggers” Explores Stolen Ambition and Going Off Script

April 21, 2021

Sanjena Sathian’s novel Gold Diggers is concerned with conventional paths to success, and the possibilities that arise when we break from them. We meet the narrator, Neil Narayan, at a high school dance, where he sees dancing as a prescribed activity, a script. “I depended on scripts,” he thinks, “in those days before anyone asked … Read More

Sharon Bala Warns Against Collective Amnesia in “The Boat People”

February 8, 2021

Sharon Bala’s The Boat People tells a nuanced tale of migration. Inspired by real events , the novel follows Mahindan, a Tamil asylum-seeker who flees persecution amidst civil war Sri Lanka, only to find himself facing deportation by the Canadian government for suspected ties to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). A multi-narrative work, … Read More

“A Burning” Is a Political Thriller With a Social Conscience

August 26, 2020

Megha Majumdar’s A Burning, set in and around Kolkata, couldn’t be more topical. Moving with the inevitability of parable, it lacerates the Hindu right-wing by following violence until it reaches its logical endpoint. In A Burning, Jivan, a young Muslim woman, is thrown into jail for her alleged role in a terror attack. Lovely, a … Read More

“Good Boys” by Megan Fernandes Breaks Open the Shoulds

August 6, 2020

As a book of poetry, Megan Fernandes’ Good Boys presents a prescriptive examination of the self. But as a body with life in it, it shatters what is known by intentionally moving through its own tempers. What does it mean to be good, and who assigns this meaning? In all its messiness, Good Boys lays … Read More

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