Updated: Mar 17
Welcome to The Bookrack, a segment that lists what our favorite on-screen characters are possibly reading!
In Ayan Mukherjee's debut feature, an aspiring writer from Kolkata moves to Mumbai to make a dent in the city's cultural landscape. Konkana Sen Sharma as Aisha Banerjee has since become iconic. A far departure from the overworked tropes assigned to coming-of-age characters and stories in Hindi cinema, Aisha from Wake Up Sid appointed value to independence, compassion, and intellectual opportunities over glamorous offerings of Mumbai. She was vivacious, hardworking, and a thorough romantic at heart who not only nudges Sid--the spoilt-brat who falls in love with her--see the integral aspects in life but realigned herself with grace when her occasional naivety got the better of her.
Picture Courtesy: Dharma Productions
A classics girl by most measures, we see Aisha's bookshelf decked with an occasional literary thriller, poignant literary fiction, and hard-hitting, contemplative books of essays. Here's what we think she has on her shelf!
Ali Smith's SEASONAL QUARTET
Smith's series of four standalone novels, connected by familiar vibrations of the past and renewed hopes for the future, is a fitting read for someone like Aisha, who is still rooted in the effervescence and small joys of Kolkata. Smith's contemplations on identity, time, and history dissolve into bittersweet melancholy--energy viewers quite associate with her.
Published on May 11th 2021 by Anchor
Agha Shahid Ali's THE VEILED SUITE
A better part of Agha's legacy lives in his poems that traverse the realm of loss and mourning with a characteristic playfulness. His sombre odes to Kashmir reverberate with anyone who has once understood grief and helplessness. This one-for-the-ages poet will surely find a place on Aisha's shelf and in her heart.
Published on February 4th 2009 by W. W. Norton Company
Andrew Sean Greer's LESS
To avoid attending his ex's nuptials, a failed novelist teetering at the edge of fifty accepts a series of low-profile literary events across the world. In eighty days, Arthur Less travels to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan to escape the humiliation of being at the wedding, only to find himself in more trouble. Lyrical and humorous, Less is right up her alley.
Published on July 18th 2017 by Lee Boudreaux Books
Tia William's SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE
When Eva Mercy, a single mother and a bestselling erotica writer, unexpectedly meets Shane Hall, the reclusive, award-winning novelist and her ex-flame, at a literary event in New York, sparks fly, unearthing unhealed traumas buried fifteen years ago. We'd be surprised if Aisha didn't have this on her shelf!
Published on June 1st 2021 by Grand Central Publishing
Kyung-Sook Shin's PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOTHER
Sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo's family launches a search for you after she gets separated from her husband in the crowd at the Seoul subway station. As sorrows and secrets reveal themselves, S0-nyo's family wonders if they ever really knew the woman they called Mother. An urgent and poignant look into motherhood, Shin's moving story hits a nerve.
Published on April 5th 2011 by Knopf
Joan Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING
Didion's works are no stranger to Aisha's nightstand, of this we're sure. The exemplary American essayist traces the fragility of memory and life in the face of illness, death, and loss. Intensely personal, The Year of Magical Thinking is a remarkable portrait of marriage and life in both good times and bad.
Published on February 13th 2007 by Vintage
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's THE PALACE OF ILLUSIONS
In Divakaruni's retelling of Mahabharata, Panchali--the wife of the legendary Pandava brothers--lends a renewed perspective to the ancient epic. The novel stations itself in Panchali's complicated relationships and friendships, her quest for righting the wrong, and her testimony of the civil war fought to reestablish dharma and order.
Published on February 12th 2008 by Doubleday
Katie Kitamuri's INTIMACIES: A NOVEL
An interpreter at the International Court in Hague finds her dispassionate views on love, violence, and power challenged when she begins working for a former president accused of war crimes. As she wards off political fireballs, her personal life spirals out of control on the side. Intriguing, suspenseful, and taut, this is a story about a woman with many truths.
Published on July 20th 2021 by Riverhead Books
SALLY ROONEY's BEAUTIFUL WORLD, WHERE ARE YOU
Rooney's novels are loaded with simplistic expressions that delve into complications of human nature and the dizzying duplicity of our times. Beautiful World, Where Are You follows the lives of four millennials in modern-day Dublin, who try to make sense of the world and the matters of their heart.
Published on September 7th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Charlotte Brontë's JANE EYRE
We'd be remiss not to anticipate a beloved classic on Aisha's shelf. And what better than Charlotte Brontë's cult classic, Jane Eyre, wherein the titular character falls passionately in love with the prideful and brooding Edward Rochester who hires her at Thornfield Hall to take care of his ward, Adèle. The book is a cornerstone for modern romances, a tale of grit, (much) moral reckoning, and bewildering love.
First published on October 16, 1847
Michelle Zauner's CRYING IN H MART
A powerful memoir about family, love, and loss, Crying In H Mart is an unflinching look at growing up Korean American and arriving at an identity. Japanese Breakfast singer and songwriter Michelle Zauner writes with memorable sincerity and vivid intimacy on what it means to get reacquainted with one's cultural heritage.
Published on April 20th 2021 by Knopf Publishing Group
If you could think of any other titles that might be not-gathering dust on Aisha's shelf, do leave a comment below!
FYI: Dear Reader, we are no more linking the mentioned books to their Amazon product page. We urge you to look those up at your local bookstores first. Please support independent booksellers.