Lockdown reads: Saikat Majumdar, author of ‘The Scent of God’, recommends these titles

Staying at home for a while? We have you covered. This week’s Reading List features salt-of-the-earth novels and short story collections handpicked by Saikat Majumdar, author of The Scent Of God and The Firebird

Updated - May 07, 2020 11:56 am IST

Published - May 06, 2020 05:46 pm IST

Saikat Majumdar

Saikat Majumdar

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There are books that just stay with you and grow brighter with time. I’ve been recently re-reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun , and have been swept away again by the simple grace and elegance of her sentences; the brutal, moving honesty. Creative writing pedagogy usually tells us that it is better to “show” than to “tell”; Adichie reveals that “telling” can be done beautifully too, that narrating is sometimes done with the simultaneous use of the microscope and the telescope.

Tin Fish by Sudeep Chakravarti

I really enjoy the novels of Sudeep Chakravarti, even though he’s been more admired for his non-fiction of late. His novel Tin Fish has a special place in my heart — a beautifully told story of growing up, friendship and bonding in a boarding school.

Althusser by Mashrur Arefin

A very different reading experience recently came from the Bangla novel, Althusser , by one of the most exciting writers from Bangladesh today, Mashrur Arefin. This novel, set in an England that is somehow both in the middle of an urgent present and strangely futuristic, blends political urgency with the mystical aura of philosophical theory, narrated in an absolutely riveting language.

The Dwarf, the Girl, and the Holy Goat by Cordis Paldano

Another lovely recent book was The Dwarf, the Girl, and the Holy Goat , by Cordis Paldano, a delightful children’s story with a cast of Dickensian characters that manages to be an ominous political allegory on contemporary India. But it remains a lovely story even if the reader, as for instance the young reader, does not get the allegory.

Out!: Stories from the New Queer India

A very special book to which I’ve been returning quite a bit isOut!: Stories from the New Queer India, edited by Minal Hajratwala. It is a delicious, jagged, uneven collection, alternatively lyrical, shocking, soft and brutal. A particular favourite here is R Raj Rao’s classic,Crocodile Tears.

Sera 50ti Golpo by Anita Agnihotri


I’m also reading another collection, of delicious short stories by Anita Agnihotri, a very popular writer in Bangla. Many of her stories deal with the lives of working professionals, sometimes caught in the conflicting demands of work and home, often the strain of marriage. What I’ve especially enjoyed is the evocation of rural life, sometimes of troubled locations, and the ethical dilemmas they bring to the lives of administrators, who usually come to such locations from urban, privileged backgrounds. I’m reading these in Bangla, but Arunava Sinha’s English translations of some of these stories are available.

We would love to know how you are keeping busy at home. Tell us what you are reading, at metro@thehindu.co.in

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