Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Freebie: The City of Devi by Manil Suri, Leela's Book by Alice Albinia, Londoners by Craig Taylor

Congratulations to Jodi Paloni, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Darlings by Cristina Alger, This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories by Johanna Skibsrud, and All That I Am by Anna Funder.

This week, one lucky reader has the chance to win a copy of three new books which take readers beyond the borders of the United States: The City of Devi by Manil Suri, Leela's Book by Alice Albinia, and Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It by Craig Taylor.

Manil Suri's The City of Devi is, according to the publisher's summary, a dazzling, multi-layered novel that not only encompasses a searing love story but, with its epic reach, encapsulates the fate of the world. Mumbai has emptied under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation; gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim thugs rove the desolate streets; yet Sarita can think of only one thing: buying the last pomegranate that remains in perhaps the entire city. She is convinced that the fruit holds the key to reuniting her with her physicist husband, Karun, who has been mysteriously missing for more than a fortnight. Searching for his own lover in the midst of this turmoil is Jaz—cocky, handsome, and glib. "The Jazter," as he calls himself, is Muslim, but his true religion has steadfastly been sex with men. Dodging danger at every step, both he and Sarita are inexorably drawn to Devi ma, the patron goddess who has reputedly appeared in person to save her city. What they find will alter their lives more fundamentally than any apocalypse to come. A wickedly comedic and fearlessly provocative portrayal of individuals balancing on the sharp edge of fate, The City of Devi brilliantly upends assumptions of politics, religion, and sex, and offers a terrifying yet exuberant glimpse of the end of the world.

In Leela's Book, Alice Albinia weaves a multi-threaded epic tale that encompasses divine saga and familial discord and introduces an unforgettable heroine. Leela—alluring, taciturn, haunted—is moving from New York back to Delhi. Worldly and accomplished, she has been in self-imposed exile from India and her family for decades; twenty-two years earlier, her sister was seduced by the egotistical Vyasa, and the fallout from their relationship drove Leela away. Now an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Vyasa is preparing for his son’s marriage. But when Leela arrives for the wedding, she disrupts the careful choreography of the weekend, with its myriad attendees and their conflicting desires. Gleefully presiding over the drama is Ganesh—divine, elephant-headed scribe of the Mahabharata, India’s great epic. The family may think they have arranged the wedding for their own selfish ends, but according to Ganesh it is he who is directing events—in a bid to save Leela, his beloved heroine, from Vyasa. As the weekend progresses, secret online personas, maternal identities, and poetic authorships are all revealed; boundaries both religious and continental are crossed; and families are ripped apart and brought back together in this vibrant and brilliant celebration of family, love, and storytelling.

The lengthy subtitle of Craig Taylor's Londoners neatly sums up this oral history of the city which gave us fog, Charles Dickens, and Big Ben.  Here's what the publisher adds by way of explanation: In Londoners, acclaimed journalist Craig Taylor paints an epic portrait of today’s London that is as rich and lively as the city itself. In the style of Studs Terkel (Working, Hard Times, The Good War) and Dave Isay (Listening Is an Act of Love), Londoners offers up the stories, the gripes, the memories, and the dreams of those in the great and vibrant British metropolis who “love it, hate it, live it, left it, and long for it,” from a West End rickshaw driver to a Soldier of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to a recovering heroin addict seeing Big Ben for the very first time. Londoners is a glorious literary celebration of one of the world’s truly great cities.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of The City of Devi, Leela's Book, and Londoners, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on April 4at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on April 5.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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