Bisexual humorist Mallory Ortberg is a writer, editor, and co-founder of the feminist general interest site The Toast. Her first book Texts from Jane Eyre – And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters was released in November 2014. Texts reimagines conversations in literary classics by Faulkner, Kipling, and Shakespeare to, of course, Brontë—and many more—as they might sound in the age of the Smartphone.
It is an interesting concept that Ortberg decided to pursue after a friend relocated to the South and told Ortberg it was like living in Gone with the Wind, but with cellphones. The result is funny and is sure to elicit a LOL, OMG or a WTF from the reader. When seen through Ortberg’s incisive and quick-witted lens, Brontë’s characters are exposed for the petulant narcissists they are, and the book at once becomes relatable. Another brilliant case in point is the three short texts with which Ortberg completely dismantles the premise of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
The greatest achievement of Texts is to make us want to read these classics in case we missed any as part of our required reading in school. So, yes, stop looking at your cellphone and read a book! And while you’re at it, check out The Toast; it is a deliciously addictive concoction.
Indian-American author Thrity Umrigar’s novel The World We Found is not so much about geographic locations as it is about the densely rich spaces in the minds and hearts of its six principal characters. It’s a remarkable feat that Umrigar takes an uncomplicated theme and turns it into an insightful study of what makes people change over time.
Armaiti is dying of a brain tumor. She decides that she wants to see her best friends from college – Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta – one last time. The four women were inseparable as young activists in 1970s Mumbai, their bond defined by their revolutionary fervor. But over the past thirty years, the quartet has drifted apart. Armaiti has established a life in America while the other three remained in Mumbai. She realizes that bringing them together is not going to be easy but she must, as her final act of forgiveness and acceptance.
The World We Found is a story about extraordinary courage in the midst of bigotry and injustice. But, more importantly, it is a clear-eyed examination of what we yearn for and what we actually achieve, and the price one pays for choices one makes on that journey. Each of the four women – and two men – is a fully fleshed out, complex and intriguing character drawn in vivid colors and the greatest of compassion you will find in a novel in a long time.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction in 2012, The World We Found is a haunting, brilliant read that is worth discovering – or rediscovering – as this season’s must-have books.