Origin: A Novel
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.
Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 international bestsellers, including The Da Vinci Code, Inferno, The Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress.
The Wish Maker
Hamish Hamilton (2009)
Zaki Shirazi has arrived back in Lahore, Pakistan, to celebrate the wedding of his childhood friend and elder cousin Samar Api to her long sought-after ‘Amitabh’ - a stand-in for the Bollywood star she always dreamed of marrying. Amidst the flurry of preparations in the house in which he grew up, Zaki can’t help but revisit the past - his childhood as a fatherless boy growing up in a household of outspoken women and his and Samar’s intertwined journeys from youth to adulthood.
Raised to consider themselves ‘part of the same litter’, Zaki and Samar watched American television together, memorized dialogues from Bollywood movies and attended dangerous protests with Zaki’s campaigning, political journalist mother. But as Zaki becomes drawn into Samar’s secret life of romantic schemes and lends her his support in trying to orchestrate the future, they both find themselves suffering the consequences.
Ali Sethi was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1984 and grew up there. In 2002 he left to attend college in the United States and graduated in 2006. He has since written reviews and articles for several publications, local and international, and has co-produced and narrated a documentary on student politics in Pakistan. He lived in New York City for a year and now lives in Lahore, where he is making music.
Turtles All the Way Down
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. John has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers and co-created the online educational series CrashCourse. You can join the millions who follow him on Twitter @johngreen and Instagram @johngreenwritesbooks or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com. John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Snuffing Out the Moon
Penguin Random House (2017), Rs1,195
2084 bce: In the great city of Mohenjodaro, along the banks of the Indus, a young man named Prkaa becomes increasingly mistrustful of the growing authority of a cult of priests.
455 ce: In the fabled university city of Takshasilla, Buddhamitra, a monk, is distressed by how his colleagues seem to have lost sight of the essence of the Buddha’s message of compassion.
1620 ce: During the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, two itinerant fortune seekers endeavour to swindle the patrician elite, only to find themselves utterly disillusioned.
1857 ce: Mir Sahib, a wandering minstrel, traverses the realms of human deception even as a rebellion against the British Raj is advancing across India.
2009 ce: In contemporary Lahore, the widow Rafiya Begum navigates legal complexities in order to secure her rights and fend off predatory charlatans.
2084 ce: A scholar revisits the known history of the cataclysmic events that led to world domination by ruthless international water conglomerates.
Across epochs and civilizations, these are intensely personal journeys that investigate the legitimacy of religion and authority, and chronicle the ascent of dissent. Snuffing Out the Moon is a dazzling debut novel that is at once a cry for freedom and a call for resistance.
Osama Siddique has been a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, a lawyer in New York and Lahore, a policy instructor in various countries, a legal scholar, university teacher and reform consultant in Pakistan, and a successful doctoral candidate and visiting professor at Harvard Law School. Currently, he earns a living by trying to persuade politicians, judges, police officers, lawyers and bureaucrats to change themselves. He was born in beautiful Lahore, and mostly lives there. His most recent book is an acclaimed and multiple award-winning critical legal history of postcolonial justice systems. This is his first novel.
Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth
Penguin Random House India (2017)
Aurangzeb Alamgir (r. 1658–1707), the sixth Mughal emperor, is widely reviled in India today. Hindu hater, murderer and religious zealot are just a handful of the modern caricatures of this maligned ruler. While many continue to accept the storyline peddled by colonial-era thinkers—that Aurangzeb, a Muslim, was a Hindu-loathing bigot—there is an untold side to him as a man who strove to be a just, worthy Indian king.
In this bold and captivating biography, Audrey Truschke enters the public debate with a fresh look at the controversial Mughal emperor.
In a review for The Hindu, Akshaya Mukul adds: Among the Mughal rulers, Babur and Aurangzeb are the most popular in social media among Bhakts of an ideology that has been working hard for the last three years to foist Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan as the sole narrative of a country where custom, costume and customary beliefs change every few kilometres. Social media is the new battleground where anyone holding a divergent view is quickly labelled anti-national or aulads (descendants) of Babur and Aurangzeb. Happily aided by the government, Aurangzeb’s name is being defaced from central vistas and who knows even from school textbooks tomorrow.
Therefore, it is interesting that the idea of Audrey Truschke’s magnificent biography of Aurangzeb took seed on Twitter where firmans are made and executed in 140 characters. Fortunately, some firmans, in this case a request to write on Aurangzeb, got implemented through a scholarly work.
Coming a year after her magisterial Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, in Aurangzeb Truschke employs the tools of an ace academic researcher but makes it accessible to everyone through her racy language that never loses sight of facts and history. It is history that has been unkind to Aurangzeb, painting him all in grey, a terrible ruler who undid the legacy of his great-grandfather Akbar, grandfather Jehangir and father Shah Jehan by razing temples and ordering mass murders of Hindus.
Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She received her PhD in 2012 from Columbia University. Her teaching and research interests focus on the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early modern and modern India (c. 1500–present). Her first book, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court (Penguin, 2016) investigates the literary, social and political roles of Sanskrit as it thrived in the Persian-speaking, Islamic Mughal courts from 1560 to 1650.