Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.

This week’s theme: Short Reads

5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!

Title: Talking to Ourselves
Author: Andrés Neuman
Translator(s): Nick Caistor, Lorenza Garcia
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publishing Date: 2015
No. of Pages: 148

Synopsis: Lito is ten years old and is almost sure he can change the weather when he concentrates very hard. His father, Mario is gravely ill and eager to create a memory that will last for his son’s lifetime. They embark on a road trip in a truck called Pedro, but Mario cannot bring himself to reveal that this journey may be their last together. While father and son travel through strange geographies that seem to meld the different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Lito’s mother, Elena restlessly seeks support in books, and soon undertakes a morally ambiguous adventure of her own.

Each narrative – of father, son, and mother – embodies one of the ways that we talk to ourselves: through speech, thought, and writing. While no one in the family dares to tell the complete truth to the other two, the combination of their strikingly different voices evokes an affecting portrait of loss. With bittersweet humor and a wide-ranging intellect, Andrés Neuman uses these three textured monologues to describe the ways a family can be transformed, and how reading, sex, driving, and silence can become powerful modes of resistance. A tender yet unsentimental portrait of love, despair, and devotion, Talking to Ourselves is a profound reflection on grief and consolation of language.

Title: Ghachar Ghochar
Author: Vivek Shanbhag
Translator: Srinath Perur
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 118

Synopsis: A young man’s close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes almost overnight. As the narrator – a sensitive, passive man who is never named – his mother, father, sister, and uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a large new house on the other side of Bangalore, the family dynamic starts to shift. Allegiances realign, marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Before he knows it, things are “ghachar ghochar” – a nonsense phrase meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can’t be untied.

Elegantly written and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humor, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings – and consequences – of financial gain in contemporary India.

Title: The Last Children of Tokyo
Author: Yoko Tawada
Publisher: Granta Books
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 138

Synopsis: Yoshiro thinks he might never die.

A hundred years old and counting, he is one of Japan’s many ‘old-elderly’; men and women who remember a time before air and sea were poisoned, before terrible catastrophe prompted Japan to shut itself off from the rest of the world. Yoshiro may live for decades yet, but he knows his beloved great-grandson – born frail and prone to sickness – might not survive to adulthood. Day after day, it takes all of Yoshiro’s ingenuity to keep Mumei alive.

As hopes for Japan’s youngest generation fade, a secretive organisation embarks on an audacious plan to find a cure – might Yoshiro’s great-grandson be the key to saving the last children of Tokyo?

Title: The Day of the Owl
Author: Leonardo Sciascia
Translator: Archibald Colquhoun and Arthur Olvier
Publisher: The New York Review of Books
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 120

Synopsis: A man is shot dead as he runs to catch the bus in the piazza of a small Sicilian town. Captain Bellodi, the detective on the case, is new to his job and determined to prove himself. Bellodi suspects the Mafia, and his suspicions grow when he finds himself against an apparently unbreachable wall of silence. A surprise turn puts him on the track of a series of nasty crimes. But all the while Bellodi’s investigation is being carefully monitored by a host of observers, near and far. They share a single concern: to keep the truth from coming out.

This short, beautifully paced novel is a mesmerizing description of the Mafia at work.

Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide
Translator: Eric Selland
Publisher: Picador
Publishing Date: 2014
No. of Pages: 136

Synopsis: A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have ore promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, a play in the nearby garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

Title: The Invention of Morel
Author: Adolfo Bioy Casares
Translator: Ruth L.C. Simms
 New York Review of Books
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 103

Synopsis: Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of the Screw. This fantastic exploration of virtual realities also bears comparison with the sharpest work of Philip K. Dick. It is both a story of suspense and a bizarre romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.

Inspired by Bioy Casares’s fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to find such admirers as Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Octavio Paz. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year in Marienbad, this classic of modern Latin American literature also changed the history of film.