Reese Witherspoon's Book Club Pick
A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women's lives at all ages--a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.
Every woman has a secret life . . .
Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she's spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father's death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a creative writing course at the community center in the beating heart of London's close-knit Punjabi community.
Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected--and exciting--kind.
As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community's moral police. But when the widows' gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife--a modern woman like Nikki--and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.--Glamour (UK)
"The Poor Mouth" relates the story of one Bonaparte O'Coonassa, born in a cabin in a fictitious village called Corkadoragha in western Ireland equally renowned for its beauty and the abject poverty of its residents. Potatoes constitute the basis of his family's daily fare, and they share both bed and board with the sheep and pigs. A scathing satire on the Irish, this work brought down on the author's head the full wrath of those who saw themselves as the custodians of Irish language and tradition when it was first published in Gaelic in 1941.
The author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows her acclaimed America debut with this life-affirming, witty family drama--an Indian This Is Where I Leave You--about three Punjabi sisters embarking on a pilgrimage to their homeland to lay their mother to rest.
The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters--Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina--were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. Rajni, a school principal is a stickler for order. Jezmeen, a thirty-year-old struggling actress, fears her big break may never come. Shirina, the peacemaking good sister married into wealth and enjoys a picture-perfect life.
On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. After a trip to India with her mother long ago, Rajni vowed never to return. But she's always been a dutiful daughter, and cannot, even now, refuse her mother's request. Jezmeen has just been publicly fired from her television job, so the trip to India is a welcome break to help her pick up the pieces of her broken career. Shirina's in-laws are pushing her to make a pivotal decision about her married life; time away will help her decide whether to meekly obey, or to bravely stand up for herself for the first time.
Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives--and learn the real story behind the trip Rajni took with their Mother long ago--a momentous journey that resulted in Mum never being able to return to India again.
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a female take on the Indian travel narrative. I was curious about how different the trip would be if it were undertaken by women, who are vulnerable to different dangers in a male-dominated society, Balli Kaur Jaswal writes. I also wanted to explore the tensions between tradition and modernity in immigrant communities, and particularly how those tensions play out among women like these sisters, who are the first generation to be raised outside of India.
Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.--USA Today
Alexis Stamatis has been hailed as one of the most gifted writers of his generation (Franoise Noiville, Le Monde) in both Greece and Europe. His work has not yet been published in America and thus has been mostly inacces sible to US readers. Amerikaniki Fouga (American Fugue), published in 2006, is Alexis Stamatis' most recent work. This novel continues to examine the basic themes that are persistent in all of Stamatis' works of fiction: an all-consuming past, the flight to escape one's personal demons, and, most importantly, the search for personal identity that is ultimately revealed only through what is unknown to the self. The treatment of these themes is also characteristic of the author's other novels-travel narrative on the surface, mystery or thriller with an existential dimension at another level, but ultimately a quest for self-discovery and personal redemption. American Fugue is one of the first books supported by the National Endowment for the Arts International Literature Awards program.
"Swift, hard-boiled novel...Shadowy zealots exist everywhere, whether in conference rooms or interrogation rooms or--most often--in rooms that can serve as both."
--New York Times Book Review
--Publishers Weekly "Abdoh...gives readers a visceral sense of life in a country where repression is the norm, someone is always watching, and your past is never really past. Recommended for espionage aficionados and for readers who enjoy international settings."
--Library Journal "A fascinating glimpse of contemporary Iran through the familiar story of childhood friends whose paths are beginning to diverge irreversibly."
--Shelf Awareness "A penetrating look into contemporary Tehran."
--Kirkus Reviews "Salar Abdoh is an acute observer of the patterns, flaws, and simple beauties of everyday life... Tehran at Twilight is] an unpretentious, cross-cultural political thriller that rings true in the way only a skillfully crafted novel can."
--San Francisco Book Review "Abdoh's restraint with the brutality in present-day Iran in no way tamps down the adrenalin that keeps his characters in action...Goodness and mercy eventually carry the day, within limits, and this relatively new author may already have potential readers looking forward to his next novel."
--The Buffalo News "New history and a fresh take on the same old dirty tricks result in a clever and compelling tale."
--The National (UAE) "Abdoh is superb...Tehran at Twilight is an impressive work of fiction...Abdoh's talent is obvious from the first scene in the story until the bittersweet end."
--CounterPunch Magazine "Abdoh's Iran is a place where the question isn't if one has been complicit, but rather the extent of one's complicity."
--What If Knits Included in Library Journal's "Books That Buzzed at BEA" Roundup, the first word on titles and trends from Barbara Hoffert, Editor "Abdoh deftly captures the uneasy atmosphere of 2008 Tehran, swirling with betrayal and corruption."
--Library Journal, Books for the Masses/Editors' Picks BEA 2014 The year is 2008. Reza Malek's life is modest but manageable--he lives in a small apartment in Harlem, teaches "creative reportage" at a local university, and is relieved to be far from the blood and turmoil of Iraq and Afghanistan where he worked as a reporter, interpreter, and sometime lover for a superstar journalist who has long since moved on to more remarkable men. After a terse phone call from his best friend in Iran, Sina Vafa, Reza reluctantly returns to Tehran. Once there, he finds far more than he bargained for: the city is on the edge of revolution; his friend Sina is embroiled with Shia militants; his missing mother, who was alleged to have run off with a lover before the revolution, is alive and well--while his own life is in danger. Against a backdrop of corrupt clerics, shady fixers, political repression, and the ever-present threat of violence, Abdoh offers a telling glimpse into contemporary Tehran, and spins a compelling morality tale of identity and exile, the bonds of friendship, and the limits of loyalty.
In 1958, Kadare was selected to pursue his writing and literary studies as a graduate student in Moscow at the prestigious Gorky Institute for World Literature. Twilight of the Eastern Gods is Kadare's fictionalized recreation of his time spent at this "factory of the intellect," a place created to produce a new generation of poets, novelists, and playwrights, all adhering to the state-sanctioned "socialist realist" aesthetic.During his time at the Gorky Institute, a kind of miniature Soviet Union where writers from deepest Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Caucasus all came to study, Kadare was caught up in the furore over Boris Pasternak's Nobel Prize win, when the Soviet Union demanded that Pasternak refuse the foreign, bourgeois award, or be sentenced to exile. Kadare's time at the Institute, the drunken nights, corrupt professors, and enforced aesthetics are fictionalized in a novel that entwines Russian and Albanian myth with history. Twilight of the Eastern Gods is a portrait of a city and a story of youth, disenchantment, and the incredible importance of the written word.
A gritty, breakneck debut novel by a popular Croatian writer of the country's "lost generation."Dada's life is at a standstill in Zagreb--she's sleeping with a married man, working a dead-end job, and even the parties have started to feel exhausting. So when her sister calls her back home to help with their aging mother, she doesn't hesitate to leave the city behind. But she arrives to find her mother hoarding pills, her sister chain-smoking, her long-dead father's shoes still lined up on the steps, and the cowboy posters of her younger brother Daniel (who threw himself under a train four years ago) still on the walls. Hoping to free her family from the grip of the past, Dada vows to unravel the mystery of Daniel's final days. This American debut by a poet from Croatia's "lost generation" explores a beautiful Mediterranean town's darkest alleys: the bars where secrets can be bought, the rooms where bodies can be sold, the plains and streets and houses where blood is shed. By the end of the long summer, the lies, lust, feuds, and frustration will come to a violent and hallucinatory head.
An Amazon Charts bestseller.
You want to know what the worst thing is? It's not the embarrassment, or the looks on people's faces when I tell them what happened. It isn't the pain of him not being there--loneliness is manageable. The worst thing is not knowing why.
When Justin walks out on Alice on their honeymoon, with no explanation apart from a cryptic note, Alice is left alone and bewildered, her life in pieces.
Then she meets Evelyn, a visitor to the gallery where she works. It's a seemingly chance encounter, but Alice gradually learns that Evelyn has motives, and a heartbreaking story, of her own. And that story has haunting parallels with Alice's life.
As Alice delves into the mystery of why Justin left her, the questions are obvious. But the answers may lie in the most unlikely of places...