This Independence day, Vigilante Publications lists for you 7 books about India that you may (not) know. This is your opportunity to re-interact with the unimaginable complexity called India.
- “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri
The eight stories in this splendid volume expand upon Lahiri’s epigraph, a metaphysical passage from “The Custom-House,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which suggests that transplanting people into new soil makes them hardier and more flourishing. Human fortunes may be improved, Hawthorne argues, if men and women “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.”
Read the review at: The New York Times Sunday Book Review
- “The Sari Shop” by Rupa Bajwa
“Go and make the most beautiful thing in the world,” a mother tells her son, and young Ramchand begins weeping, unable to decide. Set in Amritsar, India, The Sari Shop is the story of Ramchand, a poor shop assistant at the Sevak Sari house.
Read the review at: Water Bridge Review
- “Water” by Bapsi Sidhwa
The story follows the child Chuyia, “Little Mouse,” who is betrothed at age 6 and widowed at age 8. According to Hindu tradition of the time, she is discarded to a widow-ashram, her head shorn, her life given over to penitence. Inside the widow-ashram Chuyia encounters the strong and the weak, the corrupt and the honest, the victims and the victors.
Read the review at: Publishers Weekly
- “Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure” by Sarah Macdonald
Holy Cow is Macdonald’s often hilarious chronicle of her adventures in a land of chaos and contradiction, of encounters with Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, Sufis, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and a kaleidoscope of yogis, swamis and Bollywood stars. From spiritual retreats and crumbling nirvanas to war zones and New Delhi nightclubs, it is a journey that only a woman on a mission to save her soul, her love life—and her sanity—can survive.
Read the review at: Australian Book Shelf
- “The Peacock Throne” by Sujit Saraf
Sujit Saraf’s novel tells the tale of India’s communal upheavals between 1984 and 1998, and by placing a dolt at the very centre of events he comes close to making sense of all the horrifying absurdities. The story begins on the day that Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. In the bloody aftermath, Gopal hides a Sikh in his tea stall, setting in train a series of events that will lead to his own incredible rise in fortunes.
Read the review at: The Guardian
- “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo
This book is a moral inquiry in the great tradition of Oscar Lewis and Michael Harrington. As Boo explains in an author’s note, the spectacle of Mumbai’s “profound and juxtaposed inequality” provoked a line of questioning: “What is the infrastructure of opportunity in this society? Whose capabilities are given wing by the market and a government’s economic and social policy? Whose capabilities are squandered? . . . Why don’t more of our unequal societies implode?”
Read the review: The New York Times Sunday Book Review
- “Heat & Dust” by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
There is a lot of mystery and often some tragedy in ‘Heat and Dust’, yet there is also some bright humour there too, often Jhabvala mixes them at the same time, bittersweet moments or a laugh that casts a dark show.
Read the review at: Savidge Reads
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