Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line: Deepa Anappara

When children start to go missing from a basti (slum) near Mumbai, three nine-year-olds from the basti decide to investigate. Jai watches crime shows on TV and fancies himself as Sherlock Holmes or Byomkesh Bakshi, a fictional Bengali detective. Pari is a bright girl, and although Jai designates her as his assistant, she tends to …

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A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Pico Iyer

Review by B.V. Tejah Some travel books are well-suited for pandemic lockdowns. We find ourselves locked inside, while our minds can soar to distant places. These books make us ponder over the nature of faraway cultures; they would be a useless tourist guide and would not include maps. Pico Iyer’s wonderful, odd little book (240 …

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Men without Women: Haruki Murakami

Translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goosen “Here's what hurst the most," Kafuku said. "I didn't truly understand her—or at least some crucial part of her. And it may well end that way now that she's dead and gone. Like a small, locked safe lying at the bottom of the ocean. It hurts …

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The Shadow of the Wind: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves “This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs …

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Girl, Woman, Other: Bernadine Evaristo

A gay artist, an adopted child, a transgender woman, a successful lawyer, an old woman finding she has more in common with her transgender granddaughter than with her straight children…these are just some of the voices you hear in Bernadine Evaristo’s book, which in narrated in turn by 12 British women of colour. Amma is …

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Podcast: Reading for our times—Reading around the world

Some years ago, a friend and fellow bookworm, Kristine Goulding, suggested on this blog that we read a book from every country in the world. And so the reading challenge was born, with only one rule: the writer has to be from the country. We've taken our time over it, but we are now up …

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.” Three strong black women stand out in this first volume of Maya Angelou’s …

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The Bickford Fuse: Andrey Kurkov

Translated from Russian by Boris Dralyuk This is a strange, dreamlike book. Four men are on journeys across the Soviet Union that make no sense, in a landscape where the laws of physics don’t seem to exist anymore. The journeys start sometime around the end of the Second World War and last for decades. The …

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