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Asian Booklist: November
Discover new books by British-Asian authors
Update from Kia
Six years ago, my husband’s mother, Valerie, died after a long and devastating illness. I cried at the funeral more than my husband, Peter, did. In fact, I wept like a baby. Full chest-shaking, nose-streaming, ugly weeping. Much of it was sorrow over the loss of Valerie but some of it was residual, or re-emergent, grief over the loss of my father who had passed away many years earlier. His was the last funeral I had been to and my brain naturally connected the two.
The other members of Peter’s family – his father and two siblings – held it together to varying degrees. When we left the main hall, his brother and I joked that clearly we were the two crybabies of the family. This segued into an amusing story about their childhood and eventually we were all belly laughing.
Some of the other funeral-goers heard the laughter and looked over with preemptive disapproval until they realised that the immediate family was the source of the laughter. We were, it seemed, allowed a moment of humour amidst our profound grief.
I think this is what humans do. We reach for relief when times are bleak. The world is particularly bleak right now and it feels trivial – perhaps even immoral – to seek joy, but I don’t think it’s mentally sustainable to stay in a place of grief without any relief.
So take action where you can. For some, that will be posting on social media. For others, it will be taking offline action like writing to their MP, going on marches, boycotting certain goods or donating money. Take action, but don’t feel that you have to sit in your grief. Search for moments of comfort and joy.
For me, that equates to eating my mum’s cooking, going out with friends, reading good books and wearing fleece-lined clothing. I wish you similar small joys amid our collective grief.
Until next time.
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New books by British-Asian authors
9 November 2023
The debut novel from critically acclaimed writer Huma Qureshi: a poignant story of art and sisterhood, family, marriage and betrayal. Hana has a perfect job, a perfect home, a perfect marriage. It is her younger sister Mira who is a mess. But Hana wants children and her husband is hesitating, and perhaps her control is slipping. Mira dreams of a creative life but she's stuck working at a local café. She hates her flatmate and Hana’s dismissal of her writing. […]
16 November 2023
Made in Bangladesh: Recipes and Stories from a Home Kitchen
Made in Bangladesh explores the delicious cuisine of Bangladesh in 75 tantalising recipes. Taking you through the six Bangladeshi seasons – summer, monsoon, autumn, late autumn, winter and spring – with warming flavours and memories, Dina Begum's Made in Bangladesh teaches modern classics and age-old recipes to home cooks across the world. Puchka (potato & chickpea filled pastry shells with tamarind sauce), Tenga Shira (light and sour fish stew with green tomatoes) […]
23 November 2023
You want to be just like her. But do you really know her? Rani has always felt like an outsider. First growing up among her white, wealthy peers. And now next to her successful, child-free friends. From the tiny rented flat she lives in with her family, she imagines being the kind of woman who owns the beautiful house across the street. Then Natalie moves in. With her expensive clothes, adoring husband and high-powered job, she has everything Rani wants. […]
Books out last month
5 October 2023
Birdgirl: Discovering the Power of Our Natural World
'Birdwatching has never felt like a hobby, or a pastime I can pick up and put down, but a thread running through the pattern of my life, so tightly woven in that there's no way of pulling it free and leaving the rest of my life intact.' Meet Mya-Rose, otherwise known as 'Birdgirl'. Birder, environmentalist, diversity activist. To date she has seen over five thousand different types of bird: half the world’s species […]
12 October 2023
Animal Tales from India: Ten Stories from the Panchatantra
A stunningly illustrated gift book of ancient Indian fables, retold by bestselling poet Nikita Gill. The stories of the Panchatantra have been read aloud and shared for thousands of years, kept alive by generation after generation of storytellers. In this captivating collection of ten animal tales, reimagined with warmth and wit by Nikita Gill, you'll meet mighty elephants and courageous mice, cunning crocodiles and clever monkeys, talkative tortoises and little lapwing birds […]
12 October 2023
Where Magic Grows: Unique Tales of Wonder and Enchantment
From Onjali Q. Raúf, author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, comes a hardback collection of seven unique fables, filled with humour, heart and messages of hope. Beautifully illustrated by Katarzyna Doszla in full colour, with gorgeous details such as a ribbon marker and patterned endpapers, this is a book to be cherished for years to come […]
Like all Indians, Sunny Singh was born and brought up in a country of film fanatics. She and her friends waited impatiently for the latest releases, listened to the songs on radio and wore clothes inspired by those seen on screen. They learned about India and the world, determined their enemies and friends, and chose their moralities thanks to films. A Bollywood State of Mind is a personal, intellectual and emotional journey […]
26 October 2023
Leila and the Blue Fox
A captivating, powerful and luminous story from a bestselling, award-winning author about a mother, a daughter and the great Greenland shark. Wrapped up in mesmerising illustrations and presented as a deluxe hardback, this is a perfect gift for the holiday season, for 9+ fans of Philip Pullman, Sally Gardner and Frances Hardinge. The shark was beneath my bed, growing large as the room, large as the lighthouse, rising from unfathomable depths […]
The book I’m most excited about…
This month’s choice sits well with my search for comfort and joy. Made in Bangladesh: Recipes and Stories from a Home Kitchen by Dina Begum is the book that I and so many of my British-Bangladeshi peers have been waiting for. So much of our ancestral cuisine is based on antaaz (good judgement or intuition), of which I have zero when it comes to the kitchen. To have an expert cook like Dina measure, test and codify our heirloom recipes is a gift.
As well as sharing 75 recipes for the six Bangladeshi seasons – summer, monsoon, autumn, late autumn, winter and spring – Dina offers advice on pantry essentials, a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes, and sample menus for feeding a crowd, all with beautiful photography that captures the atmosphere and vibrancy of Bangladeshi cuisine.