International titles by leading authors such as Khaled Hosseini, Neil Gaiman and Yuval Noah Harari will add diversity to the literary space in the coming month. They will be joined by commentator-writer Gurcharan Das, who has penned a comprehensive volume on how to cherish desire, and historian Ramachandra Guha, whose “most definitive new biography of Gandhi” is already creating waves on social media.
The month of September — for all intents and purposes — will bring cheer to bibliophiles as, these offerings apart, there will be at least 35 books releasing in the month, covering subjects and themes as diverse as policy, polity, gender, domestic violence, festivals, terrorism and, of course, fiction. There will be something for every reader.
Here are the five books we can’t wait to read this September:
1. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari (Penguin)
The literary journey of Yuval Noah Harari has been nothing short of a fairy tale. His book “Sapiens” influenced some key personalities across the globe, including former US President Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and is today a million-copy bestseller. But while “Sapiens” showed us where we came from, his second book “Homo Deus” looked to the future and now “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” explores the present.
In the book, an advance copy of which is with IANS, Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change. Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created? Read “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Harari to know more.
2. Sea Prayer, by Khaled Hosseini, illustrated by Dan Williams (Bloomsbury)
“On a moonlit beach a father cradles his sleeping son as they wait for dawn to break and a boat to arrive. He speaks to his boy of the long summers of his childhood, recalling his grandfather’s house in Syria, the stirring of olive trees in the breeze, the bleating of his grandmother’s goat, the clanking of her cooking pots. And he remembers, too, the bustling city of Homs with its crowded lanes, its mosque and grand souk, in the days before the sky spat bombs and they had to flee. When the sun rises they and those around them will gather their possessions and embark on a perilous sea journey in search of a new home.”
The book is inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe in September 2015. A glance through the advance copy shows very little text but the moving illustrations by Dan Williams hold the reader’s breath as Hosseini adds an almost poetic tone. The publisher will donate one pound per book from its sales to UNHCR, dedicated to protecting and supporting refugees.
3. Kama, by Gurcharan Das (Penguin)
India is the only civilisation to elevate kama — desire and pleasure — to a goal of life. Gurcharan Das weaves a compelling narrative soaked in philosophical, historical and literary ideas in the third volume of his trilogy on life’s goals: “India Unbound”, the first, was on material well-being; “The Difficulty of Being Good”, the second, was on moral well-being. Here, in magnificent prose, Das examines how to cherish desire in order to live a rich, flourishing life, arguing that if dharma is a duty to another, kama is a duty to oneself.
The author shows us that kama is a product of culture and its history is the struggle between kama pessimists and optimists. He argues that yogis and renouncers regarded kama as an enemy of their spiritual project while opposed to them were those who brought forth Sanskrit love poetry and the “Kamasutra”. “In the clash between the two emerged the kama realists, who offered a compromise in the dharma texts by confining sex to marriage. Ultimately, this ground-breaking narrative leaves us with puzzles and enigmas that reveal the riddle of kama,” the publisher informed IANS.
4. Art Matters, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell (Hachette)
Celebrated writer of “American Gods”, Neil Gaiman has often highlighted the need to “make good art”. He holds that no matter how bad the times are, or how rough the weather, the primary objective of an artist’s existence is to “make good art”.
And in “Art Matters”, he joins hands with Chris Riddell to present the embodiment of that vision. Drawn together from speeches, poems and creative manifestos, the book will explore how reading, imagining and creating can change the world, and will be inspirational to young and old. Gaiman will also be making his first visit official visit to India in January next year for the Jaipur Literature Festival. So readers have quite a lot to chew upon as Gaiman is a phenomenon in the West.
5. Gandhi: the years that changed the world (1914-1948), by Ramachandra Guha (Penguin)
This new biography of Mahatma Gandhi will not only tell the story of Gandhi’s life from his departure from South Africa to his dramatic assassination in 1948, but also the history of our freedom movement and its many strands.
The publisher said that it is a book with “a Tolstoyan sweep”, revealing Gandhi to readers just as he was understood by his contemporaries. The book will also include new readings of his arguments with B.R. Ambedkar, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Subhas Chandra Bose, among others.
Drawing on never-before-seen sources and animated by its author’s unparalleled sense of drama and politics, Guha’s latest work will be marketed as the “most ambitious and integral book” on Bapu. It is a follow up to “Gandhi Before India” (2013).