Beyond the Seasons—Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet: Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer

Review by Usha Raman My first encounter with Ali Smith was a hardcover library book with an intriguing title: How to be Both. I raced through it, transfixed, by the ingenuity of form and stop-in-your-tracks prose, the effortlessness with which she shifts perspective and forces you to see first through one pair of eyes and …

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The Shape of the Ruins: Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean "There are truths that don’t happen in those places, truths that nobody writes down because they’re invisible. There are millions of things that happen in special places… they are places that are not within the reach of historians or journalists. They are not invented places… they are not fictions, …

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Piranesi: Susanna Clarke

“When the Moon rose in the Third Northern Hall I went to the Ninth Vestibule to witness the joining of the three Tides. This is something that happens once every eight years.” This is how the book begins. The narrator lives in a vast labyrinth of halls filled with statues. There is an ocean in …

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The Moor’s Account: Laila Lalani

History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. What we know of the conquest—or the invasion—of the Americas tends to come from those who conquered the land. This book gives another perspective—the narrator, Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, is among the Spanish conquistadores, but not one of them. He is different, both …

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Indian women tell their stories

The Inner Courtyard: Stories by Indian Women, edited by Lakshmi HolmströmIn Other Words: New Writing by Indian Women, selected by Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon “Women in India have traditionally been teller of tales. They have used not only the mythic materials of the epics in their local versions, but the lives of gods and …

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10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World: Elif Shafak

Tequila Leila, the prostitute, is dead. She has been murdered and her body dumped in a wheelie bin in Istanbul. She realizes “with a sinking feeling that her heart had just stopped beating, and her breathing had abruptly ceased, and whichever way she looked at her situation there was no denying that she was dead.” …

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The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo: Germano Almeida

Translated from Portuguese by Sylvia Glaser “The reading of the last will and testament of Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo ate up a whole afternoon. When he reached the one-hundred-and-fiftieth page, the notary admitted he was already tired…[H]e complained that the deceased, thinking he was drafting his will, had instead written down his memoirs.” Which …

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