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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.