For the last few decades, the supremacy of English Fiction is going into the background and Anglophone fiction is catching on with the world. Here, we are listing five novels from the Anglophone fiction that you absolutely cannot miss.
We promise you, each of these novels is a delight in its own self. All of these books have been critically acclaimed by almost every major publication around the globe.
These novel are not only representative of the city of their origin, they also embody the space and time of their origin in their words quite organically. Each of these books is a marvel within itself.
Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif
If Red Birds was a Netflix show, it would most definitely be categorized as ‘Irreverent, Deadpan, Dark’. Published in 2018 and set in a Refugee Camp in an unnamed desert of a war ridden Middle Eastern country, Red Birds is a story of a 15 years old boy’s search for his missing brother who mysteriously disappeared on the first day of his job due to his father’s shady contract with the American military.
The novel traces upon the distresses of war against terror and the seamless impossibility of peace on a global geopolitical level, it comments on the absurdity of war and USAID programs scathingly remarking on the coexistence of US’ abhorrent Imperialism and philanthropy.
Red Birds is a perfect blend of eastern and western voices, of multiple perspectives, narrations and of frenzy dream-like state and realism. It includes ghost stories, farce and absurdist touches including a canine narrator. As rightfully said by Hanif Kureishi, that the tragedy and the farce of each narrative makes Red Birds ‘the funniest tragedy’ of the year’
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie
Krokola for ancient Greeks, Kolachi for Baloch tribes, Kurrachee for muhajirs are among the many names of Pakistan’s economic and financial hub, modern day Karachi. Just these few names of this ancient fishing village turned into a metropolitan megacity are enough to reflect the inherent multiplicity of Karachi.
The cultural and geographical transitions the city has gone through have made Karachi one of the most significant cities in South Asia over the years. It has been home to millions of refugees, strangers and, muhajirs belonging to various religions, ethnicities, sects, castes and races. The hybrid city space of this ginormous cosmopolitan city has given birth to many stories and characters. Shamsie’s Kartography makes the dynamics of the city space of Karachi as its central theme.
In terms of spatiality, Shamsie divides her novel into two kinds of spaces and their respective cartography – emotional and geographical. Geographical cartography is the spatial mapping of Karachi. Which is to say that it names the landmarks, streets, roads and the cityscape of the geographical landscape of Karachi. Whereas, emotional cartography maps the stories of the city. Emotional cartography and story maps of Karachi document the people’s history of the city including instances of social and historical significance.
Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa
The novel acquaints us with the Parsi ethos, way of life, their culture, aspirations and disillusionments. We see an intimate and immediate account of Parsi thought and their daily lifestyle through Lenny’s unclouded perspective.
As the novel raises the historical and socio-political value of Parsis as a community in the subcontinent. This novel also cuts the Parsi community to a human size and tells us that they can be talked about. It gives them an authorial voice in fiction and sheds light on their realities as humans. Ice Candy Man is one of a few novels written from a Parsi perspective which gives them the narrative agency and we hear a fresh unbiased perspective of historical events.
The novel discusses the neutral role of the Parsi community in the political scenario of the subcontinent. As the partition approaches, all the other communities become more and more isolated and the religious identity emerges in a more myopic nature. The novel sheds light on the concerns and predicament of Parsi people in the sub-continent and their feelings of alienation and loss of belonging in a foreign land amidst different warring communities. The anxiety of political isolation is being registered through the dialogues of Parsi characters.
Ashes, Wine and Dust by Kanza Javed
Due to its rich sentiment, outpouring emotion and fine craft, her promising debut Ashes, Wine and Dust was shortlisted for Tiber Jones South Asia Prize.
In her widely acclaimed bildungsroman novel, Javed documents the borrowed experience of the mayhem of 1947’s partition and first-hand experience of 9/11 and the sociocultural shift it resulted in the world. The linear narrative of Javed’s prose closely notes the emotional turmoil and identity crisis of the protagonist Mariam Ameen who has grown up hearing stories of 1947 partition from her grandparents and goes through the post 9/11 diaspora experience herself.
Ashes, Wine and Dust is an account of tribulations of growing up, childhood catastrophes, complex family relationships, a child’s acquaintance to grown-up torments and the effects of the change in city space on the individual psyche. The novel is divided into three parts titled as ‘Ashes’, ‘Wine’ and ‘Dust’ respectively.
Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali
The word ‘twilight’ in the title is symbolic of decay. The title refers to the decay in Delhi that was the consequence of British colonization. Ahmed Ali employs the technique of realism to represent the old Muslim culture of Delhi through the character of Mir Nihal.
Throughout the novel we witness the ‘decay’ or downfall of Mir Nihal in a series of events. The snake that sneaks into the pigeon cage and later gets killed by Mir Nihal refers to the British Colonizers that invaded Delhi, but were mainly resisted by the people. The strength with which Nihal kills the snake represents the initial strength of the Muslims. Mir Nihal did not approve of Asghar’s English dressing and always rebuked him for it. This represents the old generations’ hatred towards the infecting english culture. Later, the killing of pigeons by the hands of a ‘stray’ cat represents the attack of colonizers on Muslim culture.
Also, the passing of Babban Jan represents the loss of everything the old generation had loved. As a consequence, Mir Nihal remorsefully decides to retire and give up pigeon flying and sells all his pigeons. This represents how the old generation stopped resisting at one point as there was no point of resisting.
We hope that you enjoy this list as much as we did. So what are you waiting for? Pick up these books and dive right in.