Speaking Volumes - The New Indian Express

Speaking Volumes

Published: 25th May 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 24th May 2014 09:25 PM

Love in the time of Kindle is not the warm, musky scent of unopened ivory coloured pages, elegant black type that act as envoys of emotion and epiphany and the fuzzy contemplation that leads to half-sleep as the air conditioner sighs and murmurs. It’s that time again, when The New Sunday Express Magazine Summer Reading List brings you the finest books of the season. 

English publishing is faddy: one day, Japanese fiction is the flavour of the season; next is Marquez and Latin American writing. Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth flambeaued Indian writing with multi-million pound advances. The fever has gone down now, but  Akhil Sharma’s Family Life is the toast of the year, a dark fable of cultural isolationism and fraternal angst. Family is 2014’s dominant theme, perhaps because it is besieged by a culture that places gratification above love. The Whittaker family saga that witnesses changes across continents is a dramatic comment on relationships. In the Vacationers by Emma Straub, after conflicts appear within a family on vacation, love prevails. The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham is, like Family Life, a tale of fraternal grief and death, but vastly different in the exploration of love. In The Husband’s Secret, Liane Mortiarty explores a succesful woman’s fear of destruction when she stumbles upon a letter containing her husband’s deadly secret—meant to be read after his death, which she discovers while he is alive.

As the publishing trends of the past two decades show, crime fiction reigns. Translations bring the flavour of alien cultures—after Simenon’s Maigret, Freeling’s Van Halen and Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee,  Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano and Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole are true inheritors. Period crime—especially in historical England is popular, like works by SL Parris and Rory Clements. Moving on, JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith returns with her second Cormoran Strike mystery, about a disappearance. James Patterson collaborates with Ashwin Sanghi, to write a thriller set in Mumbai. Joel Dicker’s bestseller The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair seems poised to conquer. The Poe of modern writing, Stephen King’s new chiller Mr Mercedes explores the dark side of America’s obsession with wheels and death. Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize saga of survival and loss merits a place in every book lover’s collection as does Indian-American poet Vijay Seshadri who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry this year. Gulzar launched a collection of nature poetry titled Green Poems.

At home, it’s the day of the icon. Published posthumously, Khushwant Singh’s Consolations and Lamentations and Ruskin Bond’s Love Among the Bookshelves are autobiographical lessons and observations. The most fascinating volume on the list, probably, is The Novel Cure. Put together by Susan Elderkin, Ella Berthoud (with an added element by Indrajit Hazra in the Indian edition), which draws on the power of books to heal, while offering tips on tackling common reading ailments, such as how not to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books in the world, or how to not give up halfway through. Get a Hemingway for your headache or a Bronte to mend your heart. Pick what suits your fancy for every book is a window to another world.

This summer looks like an easy read.

Must Read

Rule 63 by PG Wodehouse.

This time, the master surprises his devotees from behind the grave—researchers discovered an unpublished work by PG Wodehouse written in March 1915.

General Fiction

Frog Music by  Emma Donaghueet is set in 1876 San Franscisco, where a French burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon seeks revenge for the murder of her friend in boomtown America. Read More



Fictionalisation of the tense events climaxing with the 1968 Tanjore massacre of 44 Dalit peasants by feudal landlords and justice denied. Read More


My Top Three

Authors, Novelists and poets suggest their favorite reads. Read More

Crime Fiction

James Hadley Chase and Agatha Christie have become old hats. But the genre is still rich with a crop of young writers who are all set to scorch your summers. A collection of books that keep you in the edge of your seats. Read More


Children's Books

A selection of books from children's literature. Read More


Editor's Pick

Our Editors have put their thought into making this assortment from across the genres. Read More



The retelling of past where the art of interpretation is at play. A few handpicked books that hold your breath and make you see things in a different light. Read More


Eat, Drink And Pray Just Desserts

Desserts are a far cry from what it sounds like; just what you need to moist your dry summers. Find out the culinary exquisiteness that spreads between these covers. Read More


Colonial Crime

The period pieces that captures the ethos of an era through stories with a personal touch. Read More



No theme is as close to your heart as Romance. Few pulls from the evergreen genre. Read More


Graphic Novel

The art of cross-fading at its best where the narrative and the visual arrive at complimenting attitudes. Take a glance at these flights of fancies. Read more



Discover a thousand invisible cities among these books. Read More


Young Adult Fiction

The Mills and Boons are the recurrent motifs of our generation. Proof? Read More


Bookstores Recommended

A list of bookstores that offer you a whole new reading experience across the major cities. Read More


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