'Let Me Tell You What I Mean' by Joan Didion (Knopf; available from January 26, 2021)
It is a collection of American writer Joan Didion’s early pieces that deal with some of her favourite subjects, e.g. the press, politics, California robber barons, women, and her own self-doubt. Written from 1968 to 2000, these twelve pieces are put together in a book for the first time. It will enable readers to get a glimpse into the mind and thought processes of a legendary writer of the last century. These articles give readers a vivid idea about her reportage from a characteristically empathic gaze, which can be very incisive at the same time. The subjects she deals with range from the commercialization of news media to politics to women’s issues.
'Aftershocks' by Nadia Owusu (Simon & Schuster; available since January 12, 2021)
A powerful nonfiction about the many dimensions and realities of living between multiple cultures, Nadia Owusu's memoir is an engaging exploration of the difficulties of growing up in a foreign city, never sure whether one belongs where she lives or where she was born. Owusu was raised mostly by her father who was a Ghanaian official at the UN while her Armenian mother was only a sporadic presence in her life. Her father died when she was just 13, after which her life drastically changed. She then spent years working to piece together her fractured identity and figure out how to save herself. This memoir is an accounting of that time, of resilience, and of the strength it takes to figure out who you are in the face of so much disruption.
'The Last Queen' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Harper Collins India; available in January 2021)
Award-winning writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Last Queen is one of the most anticipated fiction titles based on history, coming from India this year. It tells the story of a forgotten warrior queen of the 19th century—her rise from the royal kennel keeper’s daughter to regent to being imprisoned and exiled by the British who feared her formidable spirit.
Historical fiction is on the rise in South Asia. While we are familiar with the tales of Rani Lakshmi Bai and Padmavati, we know virtually nothing about another Indian queen. Daughter of the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur was Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen. She became regent when her son Dalip, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne and went on to become a legendary warrior queen. At its core, this book is a formidable love story between a king and a commoner, and most of all, an unforgettable woman whose story should inspire today’s women to fight for their own rights.