It’s been kind of a weird month — there’s some apartment building drama, as my last post alluded to, which is definitely going to have an effect on what types of recipes I post on this blog for some time. There’s some other personal/professional life stuff that’s changing (all good things), but it’s been distracting. So my reading habits have been a little spotty, though I’ve done a lot better than I did last month as far as completing an actual book is concerned. I still have to finish the Alexander Hamilton biography I claimed I’d complete at any point over the last three to four months, but meanwhile take a look at a handful of other books I read this month:
The Siege of Krishnapur (by J.G. Farrell) – This is one of those books I picked up randomly while in The Strand a year or two ago and it’s about a fictional siege inspired by real-life events such as the Siege of Lucknow, where Indian soldiers rebelled against British colonialists during the 1800s. There were aspects of this book I really liked, and aspects I didn’t — Farrell certainly presents the imperialist point of view through his characters and while it’s clear he’s trying to show that their line of thinking was misguided at the very least, I just got a little tired of reading the book from that particular point of view. I can understand why as an author he may have felt he couldn’t present an authentic Indian voice (there are some Indian characters, but they’re pretty minor in the grand scheme of things), but I wish we had a more varied point of view to witness the story from. All in all, it’s an interesting piece of historical fiction, but I’m not too sure it’s one I’ll want to reread someday in the future.
The God of Small Things (by Arundhati Roy) – Speaking of rereads, I I read this book ages ago in high school because I knew it was an “important” work of literature by a South Asian author. But to be honest, I don’t think I absorbed too much of it and I had forgotten huge chunks of it. When buzz started about Arundhati Roy’s newest book, which I’m not entirely sure I’ll pick up yet, I felt the urge to reread this. And I’m glad I did. It’s a heartbreaking book with some truly upsetting elements in it, but it’s so well written and you find yourself immersed in the characters’ world so easily. I found myself rooting for the twins at the center of this novel, as well as their mother, even though I knew their story didn’t end the way I wanted it to. It’s a very sad book and it’s not for everyone, but I am very glad I took the time to revisit it as an adult.
Trust No Aunty (by Maria Qamar) – I’m a huge fan of Maria Qamar, better known as @hatecopy on social media, an artist who does pop art a la Lichtenstein with a South Asian twist. This book, which actually does seriously dole out advice, alongside a few recipes and other tips, mixes humor into the subject matter really well. To be fair, I think this is one of those books where you probably do have to be South Asian of some sort to really enjoy it, but I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested. I laughed a lot.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (by Kathleen Collins) – I bought this collection of stories by a little-known, but well-praised African American author on my Kindle sometime over the past year after seeing her name show up on some book blogs and I’m glad I did. It’s a very small volume of short stories by Collins, who died far too young in the ’80s. The writing is lovely and introspective and just draws you in. And then just like that, the collection is done and you’ll find yourself wishing Collins had been around longer for us to really appreciate her work.