We’re back with our annual round-up of book covers we loved in 2022. This time. we went beyond India to include South Asian books. As with our last list, we shortlisted covers that immediately communicated the emotion the author intended to evoke. The list is in alphabetical order.
A Stitch Out of Time combines two powerful themes: environmental degradation symbolised by the ubiquitous take-over of our surroundings by plastic and the slow time of creation, whether of a tree, or a piece of embroidery. French artist Anaïs Beaulieu learnt the craft of embroidery from her grandmother, a practice passed on through the generations of women in her family. A Stitch Out of Time features images of her embroidery on throwaway plastic bags, typically used for disposing waste. The cover has been designed by Ragini Siruguri.
Degh to Dastarkhwan by Tarana Hussain Khan is part food memoir and part celebration of Rampur cuisine. The book includes anecdotes that range from the recollections of a princess to the spiritual ambience of a Sufi shrine, with stories of khansamas, weddings and funerals. The elegant cover is illustrated by artist Antara K.
In an Ideal World is the story of Altaf Hussein, a young Muslim student, has been abducted from his college hostel. Joy, a bank manager, and Rohini, his schoolteacher wife set out to unravel the mystery. We liked the graphic cover created by Pinaki De, which communicates the tension in our fractured world through colour and type choices.
Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni tells the story of India’s independence through the eyes of three sisters, each of whom is uniquely different, with her own desires and flaws. This fabulous cover designed by Bonita Vaz-Shimray uses embroidery created by Ashdeen, a fashion label known for reviving old Parsi embroidery techniques.
Set in Hyderabad’s old-world aristocratic society of the 1950s, Sin is a collection of stories that resurrects and explores the work of Pakistani writer, Wajida Tabassum, one of the most prominent names in Urdu literature, often referred to as the ‘female Manto.’ We loved the details in the illustrated cover, but were unable to identify the designer or artist.
Booker-winning Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Birth Lottery and Other Surprises is a collection of fantastic short stories that are a commentary on ”privilege, class, and societal ills.” The ‘bird man’ cover illustration was done by Sharanya Kunnath. It references the title story and is a perfect visualisation of Karunatilaka’s acerbic wit.
Spanning the time between the 1970s and the present, Valli is a tale of four generations who made Wayanad their home. It chronicles the interdependence and abuse, repression and resistance, despair and contentment, through the diary of the protganist Susan. The cover design by Saurabh Garge brings alive this idea of ‘stories as vast and magical as the forest itself once was.’