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It’s quite an achievement to write literary fiction that changes the way we think about the world! The stars have not been kind to us over the past few years, but they have gifted us with incredible literary fiction that has forever changed the book industry for the better. In troubled times like these, writers who wrote down their thoughts to put things in perspective for the rest of us have been a source of great comfort. If you are serious about reading to ponder humanity and its many aspects, this list is for you. Dig in!

Sadness and Bliss By Meg Mason

Isolation from a loved one can be difficult, as the pandemic proves. But what happens when you’re with everyone you love and still can’t stop feeling alone? Martha’s story shows how lonely a mental illness journey can be. She is in the midst of people who love her in their own flawed ways, but she does not feel loved. Her story is growing up – the only twist is that she has to wait until the age of 40 to get her life under control. Evocative and hopeful, this book changes our perception of separation and interpersonal relationships.

A burn from Megha Majumdar

Jivan, a Muslim girl, is falsely accused of being an insurgent. Coming from a disadvantaged family, she has little to no resources or influence to sway the court in her favor, despite being innocent. While she is in jail, we watch her teacher and friend become famous. Helping Jivan costs them everything they care about. This novel is a brilliant commentary on the political landscape of India and sheds new light on class hierarchies, ideas of morality and justice, corruption and the turn of fortune.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Reese has to fight too hard to combine a life of civic comfort that her previous generations of trans women could never imagine. She has a fulfilling relationship with her friend Amy until Amy decides to move on and becomes Ames. Ames continues with Katrina, a cis divorced woman who also happens to be his boss. Katrina becomes pregnant and suddenly all three are forced to face their true identities by a bizarre proposal to a traditionalist. The ending is superb as the book does not provide you with a well-packaged binary solution, thus confirming that discovering yourself is an ongoing process that never leads to a finite conclusion.

Land of Great Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

This brilliant collection of short stories ventriloquises the stories of the people of modern China and its diaspora. Chen wrote her individual and collective history and chaotic past beautifully. Alternating between realism and fabulism, this collection is gripping and offers a compassionate account of the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. The reader feels familiar with the many ailments the characters go through and how they wage their own silent wars each day to get through.

Skinny Girls by Diana Clarke

Twins Rose and Lily have a complicated relationship with food. As Rose develops anorexia, Lily begins to consume more than her share of food. Lily is the yin of Roses Yang. While Rose is doing a year in an anorexic rehabilitation center, she has nothing to look forward to except Lily’s visits. As sisters, they know what the other is feeling, what thoughts go through their heads. As Rose approaches self-annihilation each day, Lily is with abusive men who continue to traumatize her. A poignant story of two sisters struggling with loss, trauma, body image issues, family dysfunction and the darkness of the past merging with the present. The ending will give you a lot of hope!