Come for: Her take-no-prisoners approach.
Stay for: Gay’s searing honesty about her difficult relationship with her body.
Gang raped at the fragile age of 12, she sought refuge in food and tried to hide behind her body. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognised or understood, but at least I was safe.” With candour, she writes about desire and denial. Hunger is her way owning her story, as she struggles to reconcile her weight with her feminist ideals – of wanting to take her space even as she’s made acutely aware of just how much.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Come for: Booker Prize winning author Roy’s return to fiction after 20 whole years.
Stay for: The much-anticipated follow up to The God of Small Things, navigates themes like gender identity, nationalism, and Kashmiri independence. It’s populated with richly detailed characters. We meet Anjum, a Muslim transwoman who grapples with the aftermath of the Gujarat massacre, and Tilo, an architect turned activist, who bears glimmers of Roy herself. They braid together stories of dissent, of Maoist repression, and of outcastes. It’s through their journey that we discover Roy’s sprawling world – a world where discomfiting truths are laid bare. But above all, it’s a story of love and redemption.
A Separation by Katie Kitamura
Come for: Kitamura’s whodunit told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator.
Stay for: In her third outing, Kitamura plots the end of a marriage in a dense cloud. Our 30-something narrator receives a call from her mother-in-law: she can’t seem to reach her son. When this oft-philandering, charismatic and wealthy Christopher goes missing, his recently separated wife – the narrator of the book – goes in search of him to Greece. She lingers in the uncomfortable in-between: as a translator she juggles languages; as a separated but not-quite-ex-wife she’s left unsure of her role on this mission. Even as all leads point to murder, she’s unable to mourn the loss of her not-quite-husband. Or feel sufficiently outraged by evidence of his promiscuity. In the discovery of her partner, and the remains of her marriage you’re compelled to meander with her, tensely and awkwardly every step of the way.