Born in the same British Muslim community in west London, childhood friends Aschar and Zahra grown up to become very different people. Aschar is shy and cautious about stepping outside his comfort zone, while Zahra is an ambitious woman who has obtained a Cambridge degree. On their wedding day, friends and family wonder what could possibly have drawn this odd couple together. A disastrous honeymoon and painful secrets from the past, plus a sinister preacher throw their relationship even more off balance. Sameer Rahim’s novel is a funny, sympathetic story about the first year of marriage and the difficulties caused by the conflicting demands of family, religion and society. JM Originals, R287.
Heaven, in Mathangi Subramanian’s A People’s History of Heaven, is a decrepit slum nestled between luxury high-rises in Bangalor. Here, five girls Muslim, Christian and Hindu, gay and straight, forge a binding friendship that’s tested to the limit when the building is threatened by government bulldozers. The young women unite to save the home they’ve built from nothing. This unforgettable story sparkles with passion and humour as it tells the tale of these determined young women in a city that would prefer to forget them. Oneworld, R333.
It’s Hong Kong in 1941 and one sultry evening Rowena, a doctor at the local hospital, is off duty and in search of a bit of fun as an antidote to the war. She catches the eye of two men. Tears of the Dragon is Jean Moran’s story of how the men fight for Rowena’s heart. Passionate, charismatic Connor O’Connor is a rebellious Irish soldier and musician. Kim Pheloung is a handsome, wealthy silk merchant who is also wild and dangerous. Rowena is drawn to them both – then the invasion comes and her world spirals out of control. Who will succeed in claiming her heart? Head of Zeus, R343.
In her 40s, with her coffee and decor shop feeling like a gilded cage and a husband consumed with Jewish guilt since their twins were born, Shelley Jacobsen is reminded she will always be a Shiksa to his family. Being Shelley is the story of what happens when Shelley hires Wayde Smith, a sexy 22-year-old surfer, as a barista. He makes her feel young and she just wants some fun – but will it stay harmless? Qarnita Loxton writes of ageing, long term marriage, sexual harrassment, motherhood and evolving female relationships. It’s the often funny story of a slightly crazy South African woman – an enjoyable beach read. Kwela Books, R290.
After her mother dies, Grace discovers she’s unexpectedly inherited a house on a wild beach and a sister she didn’t know she had who’s spent her life in a residential facility. Grace sets up house in this lush, lonely wilderness with her sister and a growing number of puppies. In Small Days and Nights, Tishani Doshi tells the story of how Grace feels she’s come to the end of the world and how her attempts to create a new life prove a struggle, then a strain, as she discovers the chaos, tenderness and bewilderment of life with her sister. Bloomsbury, R358.