Books of the Month | Month of the Books #12

"A book is a gift you can open again and again" - Garrison Keillor


In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents), and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless ‘artist’ - all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid’s wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her.

This is a love story and it is a story about betrayal. But not between lovers - between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Avni Doshi tests the limits of what we can know for certain about those we are closest to, and by extension, about ourselves.



Avni Doshi was born in New Jersey in 1982 and is currently based in Dubai. She won the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2013 and a Charles Pick Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in 2014. Her debut novel is published in India by Fourth Estate under the title “Girl in White Cotton”.




If Antoinette Cosway, a spirited Creole heiress, could have foreseen the terrible future that awaited her she would not have married the young Englishman. Initially drawn to her beauty and sensuality, he becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to reach into her soul. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals, unaware that in taking away her identity he is destroying a part of himself as well as pushing her towards madness.

Set against the lush backdrop of 1830s Jamaica, Jean Rhys’s powerful, hunting masterpiece was inspired by the first Mrs Rochester, the mad wife in Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”.



Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother, and came to England when she was sixteen. Her first book, a collection of stories called “The Left Bank”, was published in 1927. This was followed by “Quartet” (originally “Postures”, 1928), “After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), “Voyage in the Dark” (1934) and “Good Morning, Midnight” (1939). None of these books was particularly successful and with the outbreak of World War II they went out of print. Jean Rhys dropped from sight until, nearly twenty years later, she was discovered living reclusively in Cornwall. During those years she had accumulated stories collected in “Tigers are Better-Looking”. In 1966 she made a sensational reappearance with “Wide Sargasso Sea”, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W. H. Smith Award. Her final collection of stories, “Sleep It Off Lady”, appeared in 1976 and “Smile Please”, her unfinished autobiography, was published posthumously in 1979. Jean Rhys died in 1979.



Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass - from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms - Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.

Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, “Strange Weather in Tokyo” is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance.



Born in 1958 in Tokyo, Hiromi Kawakami is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists. She is the recipient of the Pascal Short Story Prize for New Writers and Akutagawa Prize. Her novel “Drowning” (“Oboreru”) won both the Ito Sei Literature Award and Joryu Bungaku Sho (Women Writers’ Prize) in 2000. Her novel “Manazuru” won the 2011 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize. “Strange Weather in Tokyo” (“Sensei no kaban”) won the Tanizaki prize in 2001, was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literature Prize in 2003, and has been translated into thirteen languages.



After Betty Ramdin’s husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time, the three become a family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. Then, one fateful night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan and learns a secret that plunges him into torment.

Solo flees Trinidad for New York to carve out a lonely existence as an undocumented immigrant, and Mr. Chetan remains the singular thread holding mother and son together. But soon, Mr. Chetan’s own burdensome secret is revealed, with heartbreaking consequences.

“Love After Love” interrogates love and family in all its myriad meanings and forms, asking how we might exchange an illusory love for one that is truly fulfilling.

In vibrant, addictive Trinidadian prose, “Love After Love” questions who and how we love, the obligations of family, and the consequences of choices made in desperation.



Born in Trinidad, Ingrid Persaud won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017 and the BBC Short Story Award in 2018. She studied law at the London School of Economics and was a legal academic before earning degrees in fine art at Goldsmiths College and Central Saint Martins. Her writing has appeared in GrantaProspect, and Pree magazines.

Persaud lives in London and Barbados.



Clarissa Dalloway, elegant and vivacious, is preparing for a party and remembering those she once loved. In another part of London, Septimus Warren Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Smith’s day interweaves L’OFFICIELwith that of Clarissa and her friends, their lives converging as the party reaches its glittering climax.

Virginia Woolf’s masterly novel, in which she perfected the interior monologue, brings past, present and future together on one momentous day in June 1923.



Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was born in London. She became a central figure in The Bloomsbury Group, an informal collective of British writers, artists and thinkers. In 1912 Virginia married Leonard Woolf, a writer and social reformer.

She wrote many works of literature which are now considered masterpieces, including “Mrs. Dalloway”, “To the Lighthouse”, “Orlando”, and “The Waves”.


Assambled by Tanja Beljanski