An author’s job is to write, write, write. However, when the author starts putting out a brand new book every few months, people start wondering whether the new churn of books by the authors actually lives up to their names and the hype that each new title brings with it. Here are five books by popular authors that actually lived up to the hype that was built around them.
Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by R.F. Kuang
It is 1828. Robin Swift, the only surviving member of his cholera-stricken family in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he is tutored in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese. He is being prepared to he’ll enrol at the Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, aka Babel, one of the British Empire’s crown jewels. This standalone dark academia speculative fiction follows the adventures of Robin and his classmates Ramy, Letty, and Victoire, as they embark on a journey towards their dreams in a magical rendition of 1800s Oxford. Themes include belonging, identity, survival, duty, love, sacrifice, morality, ethics, and, of course, the central conceit of translation, language and its power, its uses, and manipulations. Babel is a sweeping, ambitious project that manages to shine with achingly intimate moments and has the ability to hold different simultaneous meanings in all their paradox and complexity.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
A failed bank robber, an unplanned hostage drama at an open house on New Year’s Eve, a wealthy banker, a recently retired couple, a young couple expecting their first child, an eighty-seven-year old woman, and a mystery man wearing a rabbit’s head. This is a story about a bridge and a letter and a group of the most unlikely people you would expect to have anything in common. In inimitable Backman style, the author weaves together a story about being human, about seeing others for what they really are beyond the myth, the exterior, understanding and accepting them but also giving them the space to be better. This has all the hallmarks of his previous work honed and refined in his most ambitious plot to date.
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
In Whereabouts, we follow our unnamed narrator over the course of a year as she goes about life in the city she calls home. We tag along with her to the pool, on walks around her house, over bridges, in parks, piazzas, stores, and cafes, even to the train station to visit her mother, and finally to the seaside where she’s struck by an epiphany that changes everything. Vignettes, by nature, demands compression, and it is here where Lahiri’s plentiful skill sets in. She is able to convey a sense of transience with intensity and careful particular detail, of peace and quiet with its contrast against the throbbing disquietude that threads through and under this narrative. It’s an intimate story, deeply interior yet expansive; specific yet sweeping; at times deeply claustrophobic yet carrying a sense of freedom and possibility, of liberation and hope…and redemption, even while celebrating the deliberate solitary existence.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Before story begins dramatically, literally and thematically. In Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, during a performance of King Lear, ageing Hollywood actor Arthur Leander collapses and succumbs to a heart-attack even as an audience member jumps up on the stage to perform CPR. Later, the same audience member, Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparrazo-turned-entertainment-journalist studying to be a paramedic, sits with the youngest cast member, an eight-year-old girl, Kirsten Raymonde, as Arthur’s body is wheeled away in the midst of the fake snow that continues to fall on the stage. Unknown to any of them, the virus, known simply as the Georgia Flu, has already been brought to America by patient zeros. The world we know has already begun to dissolve. The After that Mandel focuses on is twenty years following the outbreak. Kirsten is now part of the Travelling Symphony, a motley group that goes from settlement to settlement in this new world performing Shakespeare, a fragment of the “best of the old world”. Their unexpected run-in with a self-titled prophet sets off a series of events that none can predict. This is a dystopian novel more hopeful than it has any right to be.
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
It is claimed that every genus of the Ficus is a meeting point, a gathering place; that a fig tree is where one should turn when one has lost love, when one seeks it. The edible common fig of The Happy Fig tavern in Nicosia is one of this story’s involved narrators; first in Cyprus and then in England. It is the summer of 1974. In the divided capital of a Cyprus unaware that it is teetering on the cusp of a brutal civil war, two teens cross paths at the Happy Fig tavern, and fall in love under the branches of the fig tree. Kostas is Greek Cypriot while Defne, his neighbour, is Turkish Cypriot, making their union forbidden. Decades later, a Ficus Carica grows in a North London garden. For a grief-stricken, now motherless, Ada, born of Kostas’s and Defne’s fraught union, the tree is the only connection to an island she’s never been to and to a complicated family history that is her legacy. Then her Aunt Meryem whom she has never met before arrives at their home, and Ada wants the answers to all the questions she’s never voiced, the ones that hold the key for her to understand who she is, where she came from, and where she could go.
Pick up a book that lived up to the hype created around it from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.
About the Author:
Anushree Nande is a Mumbai-born writer, editor, and publishing professional. Her publications include fairytale-inspired flash fiction, Ruby Whispers (October 2023), travel CNF collection Pomegranate Summer (November 2022), literary fiction novelette Summer Melody (Alien Buddha Press, November 2021), and digital-only microfiction collection 55 Words (Underground Voices, October 2015). You can find her other fiction, CNF and essays, football writing, and poetry in various magazines and journals, in print and online. You can find her at Instagram | Twitter