Jamil Ahmad: TheWandering Falcon (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India)
The Wandering Falcon begins with a young couple, refugees from their tribe, who have traveled to the middle of nowhere to escape the cruel punishments meted upon those who transgress the boundaries of marriage and family. Their son, Tor Baz, descended from both chiefs and outlaws, becomes “The Wandering Falcon,” a character who travels throughout the tribes, over the mountains and the plains, in the towns and tents that comprise the homes of the tribal people.
Jamil Ahmad was born in Jalandhar in 1933. He has been a member of the Civil Service of Pakistan, a Political Agent, commissioner in Dera Ismail Khan and in Swat, and chairman of the Tribal Development Corporation. He was also posted as a minister in Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, before and during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. He now lives in Islamabad. This is his first novel.
Alice Albinia: Leela’s Book (Harvill Secker, London)
Bold and entertaining, Leela’s Book weaves a tale of contemporary Delhi that crosses religious and social boundaries. Leela—alluring, taciturn, haunted—is moving from New York back to Delhi, where her return will unsettle precariously balanced lives. Twenty-five years earlier, her sister was seduced by the egotistical Vyasa. Now an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Vyasa is preparing for his son’s marriage. But when Leela arrives, she disrupts the careful choreography of the wedding, with its myriad attendees and their conflicting desires.
Alice Albinia read English Literature at Cambridge University and South Asian history at SOAS. In between, she lived for two years, in Delhi, working as an editor and journalist. She has written two books: Empires of the Indus, and her first work of fiction, Leela’s Book.
Tahmima Anam: The Good Muslim (Penguin Books)
A remarkable novel about one family who, having fought in Bangladesh’s brutal war of independence, must now face the challenges of peace. In the dying days of a brutal civil war, Sohail Haque stumbles upon an abandoned building. Inside, he finds a young woman whose story will haunt him for a lifetime to come . . . Almost a decade later, Sohail’s sister Maya returns home after a long absence to find her beloved brother transformed. Set in Bangladesh at a time when religious fundamentalism is on the rise, The Good Muslim is an epic story about faith, family and the long shadow of war.
Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1975. She was raised in Paris, New York City, and Bangkok. After studying at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University, she earned a PhD in Social Anthropology. Her first novel, A Golden Age, was translated into 22 languages and was recognized by several prizes. She currently lives in London
Rahul Bhattacharya: The Sly Company of People Who Care (Picador, London / Farrar Strauss and Giroux, New York)
A twenty-six-year-old Indian journalist decides to give up his job and travel to Guyana, a forgotten colonial society of raw, mesmerizing beauty. But he is not just seduced by the country: he is also captivated by the feisty yet fragile Jan, and together they embark on an adventure which will take them into a new country and change both their lives. In his dazzling and ambitious debut novel, Rahul Bhattacharya has captured the heady adventures of travel, the overheated restlessness of youth, and the paradoxes of searching for the meaning of life in the escape from home.
Rahul Bhattacharya was born in 1979. A cricket journalist since 2000, he is now a contributing editor with Wisden Asia Cricket and has been writing for the Wisden Almanack since 2003, when he compiled the series overview of India in England, 2002. He also writes for the Guardian.
Roopa Farooki: The Flying Man (Headline Review/ Hachette, London
“I was once a journalist, a counterfeiter, an internet entrepreneur. I was once a son, a husband, a father. And now I’m a storyteller.” Meet Maqil – also known as Mike, Mehmet, Mikhail and Miguel – a chancer, charmer and charlatan. A criminally clever man who tells a good tale, trading on his charm and good looks, reinventing himself with a new identity and nationality in each successive country he makes his home, abandoning wives and children and careers in the process. His chequered history is catching up with him: his tracks have been uncovered and his latest wife, his children, his creditors and former business associates, all want to pin him down.
Roopa Farooki was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1974, to a Pakistani father and Bangladeshi mother, and is the youngest of three sisters. She moved to the UK when she was seven months old, and was brought up in central London, where she has worked in advertising and written several novels. She teaches creative writing, and is the Ambassador for Family Counselling for the UK charity Relate
Musharraf Ali Farooqi: Between Clay and Dust (Aleph Book Company, India)
In an old ruined city, emptied of most of its inhabitants, Ustad Ramzi, a famous wrestler past his prime, and Gohar Jan, a well-known courtesan whose kotha once attracted the wealthy and the eminent, contemplate the former splendour of their lives and the ruthless currents of time and history that have swept them into oblivion. Powerful and haunting, Between Clay and Dust is a triumph of storytelling and a poignant exploration of love, honour, redemption and the strength that great souls find to go on when everything is lost.”
Musharraf Ali Farooqi is an author, novelist and translator. He was born in 1968 in Hyderabad, Pakistan, and now divides his time between Toronto and Karachi. He has been previously shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2011 for his novel The Story of a Widow.
Amitav Ghosh: River of Smoke (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India)
In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. When the seas settle, five men have disappeared – two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? On the grand scale of an historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, has taught at a number of institutions and written for many magazines. He currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.
Niven Govinden: Black Bread White Beer (Fourth Estate/ Harper Collins India)
Amal is driving Claud from London to her parents’ country house. In the wake of Claud’s miscarriage, it is a journey that will push their already strained relationship towards a possible collapse. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Black Bread White Beer captures the inner lives of this thirtysomething, upwardly mobile couple as it deals with festering, unaddressed issues-mixed-race marriages, parental pressures, the tension between humanism and organized religion-and the loss of their unborn child.
Niven Govinden is the author of We Are the New Romantics and Graffiti My Soul. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Five Dials, Time Out, First City, Teller, Pen Pusher, Shortfire Press, BUTT, and on BBC Radio 3.
Sunetra Gupta: So Good in Black (Clockroot Books, Massachusetts)
It is the eve of the transit of Venus in the year 2004. An American travel-writer, Max Gate, and his once much beloved friend, an extremely charming and highly refined Bengali businessman by the name of Byron Mallick, meet in extraordinary circumstances upon the shores of Bengal. Byron is likely soon to be facing charges of murder, and Max – who has arrived with some notion of resolving the crisis – finds himself instead confronted with a need to revise his own notions of morality, loyalty and love.
Sunetra Gupta is an acclaimed novelist, essayist and scientist. Her fifth novel, So Good in Blackwas published in February 2009. Sunetra, who lives in Oxford with her husband and two daughters, is Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford University. Sunetra was born in Calcutta in 1965 and wrote her first works of fiction in Bengali. She is an accomplished translator of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore.
Mohammed Hanif, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti (Random House India)
The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments are looking for a miracle, and Alice Bhatti is looking for a job. Alice is a candidate for the position of junior nurse, grade 4. With guidance from the working nurse’s manual, and some tricks she picked up in prison, Alice brings succour to the thousands of patients littering the hospital’s corridors and concrete courtyard. In the process she attracts the attention of a lovesick patient, Teddy Bunt, apprentice to the nefarious ‘Gentleman Squad’ of the Karachi police. They fall in love; Teddy with sudden violence, Alice with cautious optimism.Their love is unexpected, but the consequences are not.
Mohammed Hanif is a Pakistani writer and journalist. He was born at Okara. He was graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He initially worked for Newsline, The Washington Post and India Today. In 1996, he moved to London to work for the BBC. Later, he became the head of the BBC’s Urdu service in London. He moved back to Pakistan in 2008.
Jerry Pinto: Em and the Big Hoom (Aleph Book Company, India)
In a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay, through the last decades of the twentieth century, lived four love-battered Mendeses: mother, father, son and daughter. Between Em, the mother, driven frequently to hospital after her failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the father, trying to hold things together as best he could, they tried to be a family.
Jerry Pinto lives and works in Mumbai. He has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian, journalist and columnist. He is now associated with MelJol, an NGO that works in the sphere of child rights. His published works include a book of poems, Asylum, and Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, which won the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2007.
Uday Prakash: The Walls of Delhi (Translated by Jason Grunebaum; UWA Publishing, W. Australia)
In ‘The Walls of Delhi’, a sweeper discovers a cache of black money and escapes to see the Taj Mahal with his underage mistress; in ‘Mohandas’, a dalit races to reclaim his life stolen by an upper-caste identity thief; and finally, in ‘Mangosil’, a slum baby’s head gets bigger and bigger as he gets smarter and smarter, while his family tries to find a cure.
Uday Prakash is one of contemporary Hindi’s most important voices. He has published several volumes of poetry and fiction, published over the past twenty-five years. Uday is also a freelance writer and journalist, a filmmaker of documentaries, feature films and television series, and a playwright. He divides his time between New Delhi and Sitapur in Madhya Pradesh.
Jason Grunebaum has worked as an interpreter and delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kashmir, Kosovo, and East Timor. His short stories and translations have appeared in many journals. He is also a senior lecturer in Hindi at the University of Chicago, where he teaches creative writing.
Anuradha Roy: The Folded Earth (Hachette India)
The Folded Earth is an evocative and deeply moving tale of a young woman making a new life for herself amid the foothills of the Himalaya. Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village, where people coexist peacefully with nature. But all is not as it seems, and she soon learns that no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world.
Anuradha Roy was educated in Hyderabad, Calcutta and Cambridge (UK). She is an editor at Permanent Black, an independent press publishing in South Asian history, politics and culture. She lives mainly in Ranikhet, India, with her husband Rukun Advani and their dog, Biscoot.
Saswati Sengupta: The Song Seekers (Zubaan, India)
As the monsoon rains wash over the city of Kolkata, four women sit and read and talk in the kitchen of Kailash—the old mansion of the Chattopadhyays where Uma comes to live after her marriage in the summer of 1962. But it is only as she begins to read aloud the traditional Chandimangal composed by her husband’s grandfather to celebrate the goddess that the smothered stories begin to emerge…
Saswati Sengupta teaches English Literature at Miranda House, Delhi University. While she has academic publications, The Song Seekers is her first novel.
Geetanjali Shree: The Empty Space (Translated by Nivedita Menon; Harper Perennial/ Harper Collins India)
A bomb explodes in a university café, claiming the lives of nineteen students. The Empty Space begins with the identification of those nineteen dead. The mother who enters the café last to identify the nineteenth body brings home her dead eighteen-year-old son packed in a box, as well as the sole survivor of the blast, a three-year-old boy who, by a strange quirk of fate, is found lying in a small empty space, alive and breathing.
Geetanjali Shree has written four novels – Mai, Tirohit, Hamara Sheher Us Baras and Khali Jagah – and two collections of short stories in Hindi. Also to her credit is Between Two Worlds: An Intellectual Biography of Premchand. Her stories have been translated into Gujarati, English, German, Serbian and Japanese.
Nivedita Menon is professor in political thought at School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She has edited and co-written many titles and has received the A.K. Ramanujan Award for translation instituted by Katha.
Jeet Thayil: Narcopolis ( Faber and Faber, London)
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room the air is thick and potent. Here, people say that you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. Narcopolis is a rich, chaotic, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.
Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India in 1959 and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. He is a performance poet, songwriter and guitarist, and has published four collections of poetry. He is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008). He currently lives in New Delhi.