Tishani Doshi’s latest novel begins in Paramankeni, a far-flung coastal village in Tamil Nadu. The protagonist, Grace, has returned from America to take ownership of a house left to her by her recently deceased mother. There’s another legacy too—a sister she never knew about. This, however, is a mixed blessing as Lucia has Down’s syndrome and requires full-time care.
Two young girls are snatched off a city street; the crime ripples through the wider community. A story that might have been set anywhere, but Julia Phillips sets hers in Kamchatka, one of the remoter parts of Russia’s remote Far East.
In 2005, on the 600th anniversary of Chinese admiral’s Zheng He’s first voyage, 19-year old Mwamaka Sharifu was plucked from Kenya’s Pate island and granted a scholarship to study in China. She was, it was said, the descendant of a shipwrecked sailor from one of Zheng He’s fleets.
Fiction exploring the interior life of contemporary Iranians is not well represented in translations readily available in the West. The Book of Tehran aims to begin to redress the shortage by offering ten stories set in the Iranian capital, with the authors’ different voices maintained by having each story translated by a different translator.
When Salimah, the African refugee at the center of Iwaki Kei’s Farewell, My Orange, arrives in small-town Australia with spouse and sons, her situation is dire. She can hardly speak English and her options for gainful work are few.
Fatima Bhutto’s latest, powerful novel, The Runaways, highlights the whys and wherefores that drive young people to join such terrorist organizations as the Islamic State. Anita Rose and Monty live in Pakistan and Sunny resides in England, despondent, living with anxieties about their identity and their place in this world. When a propagandist radicalized narrative presents itself as an answer, they latch onto it in a desperate attempt to fulfill what they feel are their destinies.
Chinese writer Jia Pingwa is rooted in his own origin story. He says in the Afterword to his most recent novel in English translation, Broken Wings, “Your birthplace has determined who you are,” and that here, “I have written about myself, and only myself.” Jia is from Shaanxi Province, which has places so remote that they can barely even be said to be forgotten, as they exist suspended in their own time and space.