the next good book

Sleeping Giants

“There was something he wasn’t saying.  Amanda could feel it.  But she didn’t press.  Secrets were okay with her.”

Spitting Gold

“I would get like this sometimes, even as a child: sure that the world was conspiring against me.  Papa called it paranoia; Mama, intuition.  I supposed that which parent was correct depended upon the outcome.”

How to Know a Person

“Being open-hearted is a prerequisite for being a full, kind, and wise human being.  But it is not enough.  People need social skills. We talk about the importance of ‘relationships’, ‘community’, ‘friendship’, ‘social connection’, but these words are too abstract.  The real act of, say, building a friendship or creating community involves performing a series of small, concrete social actions well: disagreeing without poisoning the relationship; revealing vulnerability at the appropriate pace; being a good listener; knowing how to end a conversation gracefully; knowing how to ask for and offer forgiveness; knowing how to sit with someone who is suffering; knowing how to host a gathering where everyone feels embraced; knowing how to see things from another’s point of view.”

Real Americans

“Once she had believed that connection meant sameness, consensus, harmony.  Having everything in common.  And now she understood that the opposite was true: that connection was more valuable- more remarkable- for the fact of differences.  Friendship didn’t require blunting the richness of yourself to find common ground.  Sometimes it was that, but it was also appreciating another person, in all their particularity.”

The Ministry of Time

“He was an anachronism, a puzzle, a piss-take, a problem but he was, above all things, a charming man.  In every century, they make themselves at home.”

Table For Two

” I want to hear what’s happened no matter how ugly, or uncomfortable, or unnerving it might be.  Because if we don’t stare down the things that make us want to look away, then the world is just a mirage.”

Iron Flame

“Revolution tastes oddly….sweet.”

I Cheerfully Refuse

“It’s taken all my life to learn protection is the promise you can’t make.  It sounds absolute, and you mean it and believe it, but that vow is provisional and makeshift and no god ever lived who could keep it half the time.”

The Sun Walks Down

“ When George Axam wakes to the sound of rain, he sits up in his bed, furious at everything: the weather, God, shearers, sheep, his exasperating brother, and the twistedness of his sheets. He suspects, as he always does when inconvenienced by rain, that the natives have brought it on to spite him. These are the only circumstances under which George would indulge such suspicions; he would never attribute to native magic a stretch of warm, dry, windless days for shearing. “

Western Lane

“There were three of us, all girls.  When Ma died, I was eleven, Khush was thirteen, Mona fifteen. We’d been playing squash and badminton twice a week ever since we were old enough to hold a racket, but it was nothing  like the regime that came after.  Mona said that all of it, the sprints and the ghosting and the three-hour drills, started when our aunt Ranjan told Pa that what we girls needed was exercise and discipline and Pa sat quiet and let her tell him what to do.”