When I travel, I love to bring home books as souvenirs. I try to make my choices reflect the place I’m visiting. This trip has been no different! Here are the books that will be making the trek home with me this time:

India books

As I look at my purchases all together, I realize it’s a bit like that Sesame Street game, “One of these things is not like the others.” Alright, so Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree has nothing to do with my trip. However, the copy I read was a library book, and I loved the book so much that I wanted my own copy. Plus, I found it on sale.

The two books on the right are both by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and I’ve been wanting to read them for a while now. The Palace of Illusions retells the Mahabharata, one of the great Indian epics, from the point of view of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. They are one of two branches of a family struggling to inherit the kingdom of Hastinapura. I quite enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s novella The Penelopiad, in which Penelope explains what was happening on her end while Odysseus was out wandering, so I am looking forward to The Palace of Illusions.

The second Divakaruni book I picked up is her most recent. Here’s the synopsis from the jacket blurb:

“A group of nine are trapped in the visa office at an Indian Consulate after a massive earthquake in an American city….As they wait to be rescued — or to die — they begin to tell each other stories, each recalling ‘one amazing thing’ in their life, sharing things they have never spoken before.”

I think the concept has a lot of potential, and the four quotes featured on the back of the book are from Abraham Verghese, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ha Jin, and Lisa See, so I think it’s worth a shot!

I tried to read Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence some time ago but didn’t get very far. However, Rushdie is a wonderful writer, so I was quite happy to come across Imaginary Homelands, a collection of essays that cover topics ranging from Indian and Pakistani politics to John le Carre and Philip Roth.

Finally, at my husband’s suggestion, I picked up R. K. Narayan’s The World of Malgudi, a compilation of four novels set in the imaginary South Indian town of Malgudi. Narayan’s Malgudi stories were some of my husband’s favorites growing up, so I’m looking forward to reading them.

A quick update on my trip reading: I’m nearly finished with the third audiobook book of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Moon books and have mixed feelings about the trilogy. I’m also reading — and absolutely loving — Mary Helen Stefaniak’s The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia. It’s out on September 6th from Norton. More about it as soon as I finish!

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  1. I haven’t read any of Rushdie’s essay collections yet, despite loving his fiction! I think I’m ‘saving’ them for when I run out of novels/short stories. lol

    1. How funny…I’m the opposite! I haven’t yet been able to get into his novels, but I found his essays to be more accessible, at least at first glance. He is a wonderful writer, either way!

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