By: Em Perper
Many of you wonderful readers are aware of Read Broader, Curious Iguana’s year-long initiative to encourage members of our community to read outside their comfort zones—whether attempting a genre they usually avoid or learning about a new culture. To that end, I’d like to feature several works of fiction debuting Tuesday that, in my opinion, embody what Read Broader is all about.
In a Pakistani community, someone is publicly broadcasting people’s most precious secrets from the minaret. When a Muslim cleric’s daughter is linked romantically to a Christian, the community turns on itself. Nargis, a Muslim widow, is caught in the middle of a violent controversy. The Golden Legend, written by award-winning author Nadeem Aslam, depicts the brutality inflicted by religious extremists but is ultimately hopeful. It’s “a grieving, not just for Pakistan, on the one hand, and what it could be and what it has been, but for the whole of civilization,” according to the BBC.
Mad Country centers on the lives of folks living in or hailing from Samrat Upadhyay’s homeland, Nepal. Government officials target a group of journalists; a Nepali man becomes involved in the protests in Ferguson, Missouri; the owner of a construction worker is arrested and brainwashed—these are but a portion of the stories in Upadhyay’s collection. In an interview with National Endowment for the Arts, where Upadhyay is a Literature Fellow, he said, “I think my obsession is how our inner world interacts and merges with the external world and how we create our own realities. It’s a kind of spiritual outlook…I’m always interested in how the world of the [spirit] is interacting with the physical world outside and how they’re informing each other, that ultimately they’re not that separate.” Soho Press published this collection in paperback to make it more affordable and accessible.
My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci joins the realm of spectacular international fiction exploring gay identity, like Ernesto by Umberto Saba and Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin. Author Rakesh Satyal describes My Cat Yugoslavia as “one part Bulgakov, one part Kafka, one part Proust, and one part Murakami.” Statovci’s novel, a story of two outcasts in two different times, takes the reader from 1980s Yugoslavia to contemporary Finland. A young Muslim woman marries a near stranger, and their union is doomed to fail. Years later, her son, Bekim, is an outcast in Finland—not only because of his immigrant status, but because of his sexuality, too. In a gay club, Bekim meets a slick talking cat, and their time together spurs Bekim to return to Kosovo and reconsider his family history.
Other notable releases:
- Spoils by Brian Van Reet (literary fiction)
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero (self-help, finance)
- At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider (memoir, travel)
- A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume (literary fiction)
- Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan (science, philosophy)
- The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (dystopian fiction)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (true crime, history)