- They include Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Abraham Verghese, Janika Oza, Chetna Maroo, Saket Soni and Siddharth Kara.
Acclaimed authors Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, and Abraham Verghese, are among The New York Times’ ‘100 Notable Books of 2023,” an annual list of “the best novels, memoirs, biographies, poetry collections, stories and more.” Rushdie’s latest novel “Victory City,” is listed in the fiction category, along with “The Covenant of Water” by Verghese and Canadian novelist Janika Oza’s “A History of Burning.” Joining them are British Indian author Chetna Maroo for her debut novel “Western Lane,” and Sri Lankan author Vajra Chandrasekera’s Fantasy novel “The Saint of Bright Doors.” Iyer’s “The Half Known Life” is included in the nonfiction category along with labor organizer Saket Soni’s “The Great Escape,” and “Cobalt Red” by British Indian author and researcher Siddharth Kara.
Rushdie’s historical fantasy novel is set against the backdrop of 14th-century India. It narrates the remarkable life of Pampa Kampana, who established an empire from magical seeds, embracing equality between genders and the acceptance of all faiths. The author recently received the first-ever ‘Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award,’ presented by the Vaclav Havel Center in New York. Last month, he received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for continuing to write despite enduring decades of threats and violence. His latest book, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” about the onstage attack on him at a literary event in Upstate New York last August, will hit the shelves on April 16. According to him, the book is “a way to take charge of what happened and to answer violence with art.”
“The Covenant of Water,” a historical fiction by Verghese unfolds over 77 years in Kerala and traces the experiences of three generations within a family plagued by a unique curse. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and raised in India and the U.S., Veghese is a doctor by profession. He is currently the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor, and vice chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the School of Medicine at Stanford University. His writing is characterized by his deep knowledge of medicine and his empathy for his patients. He can convey complex medical concepts in a way that is accessible to the layperson. His writing also explores themes of identity, family, and the immigrant experience.
Oza’s debut novel “A History of Burning” spans India, Uganda, England, and Canada, and revolves around how one act of survival reverberates across four generations of a family and their search for a place of their own. The book was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction at the 2023 Governor General’s Awards. Based in Toronto, Oza is the winner of the 2022 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction and the 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest. She has received fellowships and support from VONA, Tin House, One Story, the Millay Colony, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Maroo’s “Western Lane” revolves around 11-year-old Gopi “who has been playing squash since she was old enough to hold a racket. When her mother dies, her father enlists her in a quietly brutal training regimen, and the game becomes her world. Her stories have appeared in anthologies and have been published in the Paris Review, the Stinging Fly and the Dublin Review The Kenya-born author was the recipient of the 2022 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, awarded annually since 1993 by the Paris Review to celebrate an outstanding piece of fiction by an emerging writer published in the magazine during the preceding year. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as an accountant.
Chandrasekera’s “The Saint of Bright Doors” is about the protagonist who is trained to kill by his mother and is able to see demons. The story revolves around how he flees his destiny as an assassin and winds up in a politically volatile metropolis. The Colombo, Sri Lanka-based author has written and published multiple short stories, articles, essays, and reviews, as well as poems that have been translated into half a dozen languages. He was nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nominee for his short fiction “The Translator, at Low Tide” in 2021.
For his book “The Half Known Life,” Iyer talked to people the world over about what paradise means to them, providing hours of thought-provoking meditations. “Paradise becomes something different in every neighbor’s head,” he says, Born in Oxford, England, he won a King’s Scholarship to Eton and then a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. He became a Teaching Fellow at Harvard, where he received a second Master’s degree, and in subsequent years he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters. Since 1982 he has been a full-time writer, publishing 15 books, translated into 23 languages, on subjects ranging from the Dalai Lama to globalism, from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism. He has also written introductions to more than 70 other books, as well as liner and program notes, a screenplay for Miramax, and a libretto. His four talks for TED have received more than 10 million views so far. He has spent much of his time at a Benedictine hermitage in Big Sur, California, and most of the rest in suburban Japan.
In “The Great Escape,” Soni, a labor organizer and human rights strategist, details the story of several hundred Indian men lured to this country on promises of work and green cards, who ended up in semi-captivity in Mississippi until his efforts to free them. He is the founder and director of Resilience Force, a national initiative to transform America’s response to natural disasters by strengthening and securing America’s resilience workforce. After Hurricane Katrina, in 2006, Saket co-founded the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. He is recognized as a national expert on post-disaster economies, immigrant rights and the future of work. He co-authored “And Injustice For All: Workers’ Lives In the Reconstruction,” the most comprehensive report on race in the reconstruction of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, as well as “Never Again: Lessons of the Gustav Evacuation” an account of the inequities in the response to Hurricane Gustav in 2009, which led to new state policies and new norms for evacuating the most vulnerable residents in preparation for disaster.
The horrendous story of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is brought to life by Kara’s Cobalt Red. In this stark and crucial book, Kara argues that we must all care about what is happening in the Congo—because we are all implicated. An author, researcher, screenwriter, and activist on modern slavery, he is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has authored three books on modern slavery: “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” (2009); “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia” (2012); and “Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective” (2017), each with Columbia University Press. He adapted “Sex Trafficking” into a Hollywood film, “Trafficked,” which held its world premiere at the United Nations in New York. “Sex Trafficking” also won the prestigious Frederick Douglass Book Prize at Yale University for the best non-fiction book on slavery.