The Age of Shiva

Perhaps one day I will tell you about the yearning from which you were born. You will deliver me, will you not, from this life I find myself in? This is the question Meera poses to her infant son, Ashvin, the only male who promises redemption from the choices she's made. As in his debut, The Death of Vishnu, Manil Suri's second novel places Hindu mythology, familial strife, and contemporary political and religious conflicts in deft and revealing juxtapositions. Meera's urgent soliloquy -- which begins from her misguided desire to marry Dev, a singer she believed would transform her ordinary existence into a Bollywood romance -- is a lyrically sensual reflection, peppered with pragmatic justifications, agonized what-ifs, and haunting regret. As her son grows to manhood, Meera retreats further into the corridors of her mind to soothe the rebellious fury caused by her manipulative father and restore the energy sapped by her needy, alcoholic husband and his lecherous brother. Like Meera, readers must navigate the complexity of this family's emotional terrain, often as unsettled as that of the newly independent India. But Suri's pitch-perfect language drives a narrative that ultimately reveals while a mother's motives might not be entirely pure, they are utterly human -- a fact that is at once exhilarating and all too humbling. -

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."