Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins recommends novels of the Sri Lankan civil war, wedding plans gone awry and the magic of language..
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
By Shehan Karunatilaka
W. W. Norton & Company
From the publisher: Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” is a searing satire set amid the mayhem of the Sri Lankan civil war. Maali Almeida—war photographer, gambler, and closet queen—has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.
From Heather, Bookseller: An incredible political thriller with Maali Almeida – closet queen, war photographer, gambler, and recently deceased – at the center. Karunatilaka writes in second-person as you live (or moreso die) with this character. This book is funny, weirdly heartfelt, and beautifully written; it’s easy to see how “Seven Moons” won the International Booker Prize written with such care and wisdom. Just read this gorgeous book!
Tastes Like Shakkar
By Nisha Sharma
From the publisher: Bobbi Kaur is determined to plan a celebration to remember for her best friend’s wedding. But she has two problems that are getting in her way: 1. The egotistical, and irritatingly sexy, chef Benjamin “Bunty” Padda is supposed to help her with the menu since he’s the groom’s best friend; and 2. Someone is trying to sabotage the wedding.
Through masquerade fundraisers and a joint bachelor-bachelorette trip to Vegas, this chef and wedding planner explore their growing connection all while trying to plan a wedding at Messina Vineyards in a time crunch. But once the shaadi saboteur is caught and the wedding is over, will their love story have a happily ever after?
From Teresa, Bookseller: A wonderful re-imagining of “Much Ado About Nothing” featuring a headstrong (and fully capable) Bobbi Kaur and the loveable but equally headstrong Bunty Padda. Both of their businesses are on the line to make sure their best friend’s wedding goes off without any problems thus Bobbi and Bunty learn that in order to succeed, they need to work together, no matter how much they hate (it can only be hate, no matter how attractive they find each other). When someone starts sabotaging the wedding, Bobbi and Bunty lean more on each other to ensure success and maybe, just maybe, they will learn the line between love and hate is pretty slim.
By R.F. Kuang
From the publisher: 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel. Babel is the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working — the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars — has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion.
From Andrea, Events and Social Media Manager: I knew R.F. Kuang was a genius after reading “Yellowface”… but I adored “Babel.” This book is the perfect dark academia novel that challenges colonialism, racism, and capitalism (something that dark academia often forgets to mention when romanticizing white privileged experiences). It is mixed with the intricacies of language, academia, and so so much more. Oxford and Babel become characters within themselves — places that you love, hate, and grieve at the same time. I was intimidated by this book at first glance, but it was so worth the read. I think this book will be on my favorites list forever.