When Lee Yeongju burns out at work and leaves her husband, she finds solace in pursuing her childhood dream of opening a bookshop. Her goal is to bring joy to other readers in Seoul and to get back into reading, a pastime she enjoyed back in middle school before she got caught up in the competitiveness of high school, university, and the corporate world. Yeongju and her new friends learn to slow down, enjoy life outside the rat race, and allow themselves not to conform to societal expectations.

Post-independence India had a big problem–about 40% of its land wasn’t, well, India. Instead, this land was in the hands of the princely states: Rulers who had signed agreements accepting the rule of the British Empire, while getting a relatively free hand to rule their local jurisdictions. And these weren’t small states. Hyderabad—whose ruler made noises about independence, at least initially—had a larger income than Belgium, and was bigger than all but twenty UN member countries. 

It is a battle that has been called “the Stalingrad of the East”, but a more accurate description might be“India’s forgotten battle of World War II”. The Battle of Kohima, which was fought between British/Imperial and Japanese troops during 4 April through 6 June of 1944, according to author Mmhonlümo Kikon, “shaped world history”. It marked the end of Japan’s effort to invade India and join forces with the Indian independence forces against the British Raj. Kohima, Kikon writes, “saved the British empire and the Allied forces from defeat and brought them out from the jaws of death into an uncertain glory carved into their history books.”

Of all the Indian epics, the Ramayana is the best- known: Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, is banished from his kingdom by a jealous stepmother. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana choose to accompany him. During the exile, Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. With the help of Hanuman and a “monkey” army, he defeats Ravana and gets Sita back. It is not a happily-ever-after for Rama though. Questions arise about her chastity given the time she was held in captivity by Ravana. As an ideal king who cares for public opinion, Rama chooses to let her go.

Divided into two parts set in Iran and the US respectively, Dare the Sea is a new collection of stories from Iranian-American writer Ali Hosseini.  The stories, some of which had previously appeared in Guernica, Antioch Review and Story Quarterly, explore Iran’s landscape, culture and how cataclysmic, socio-political changes have shaped the identity and sense of belonging among Iranians living in Iran and the United States.

Four people at a Hyderabad newspaper publishing company drop dead from heart attacks on the same day. It’s not impossible that people could have heart attacks on the same day, but the timing seems suspicious to the police, namely the lead investigator, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mona Ramteke. This is the lead-in of Aditya Sinha’s mystery, Death in the Deccan, a fun and quirky whodunnit that at times could also be used as a cardiology and toxicology primer. 

The toy walkie-talkie set Amiko receives on her tenth birthday, one that she bounces with excitement to use with her yet-to-be-born brother or sister, is never successfully played with; there always fails to be a coherent response from the other end. Through flashbacks and snappy dialogue, Natsuko Imamura’s novella This is Amiko, Do You Copy? conveys the significance of communication in the building and breaking down of relationships. Adapted into a Japanese film in 2022 and now translated by Hitomi Yoshio, Imamura’s short yet engaging narrative, covering just over 120 pages, follows its protagonist Amiko from age ten through fifteen.