Tales of India

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Family Matters
Rohinton Mistry
Set against the backdrop of a politically corrupt Bombay in the 1990s, this is a story of a family stretched and tested by religion and duty to family. Retired professor Nariman Vakeel once loved another woman, but succumbed to his parents, and Parsi society’s wishes, and married instead a widow with two children. Now elderly and stricken with Parkinson’s disease, he is moved from the large apartment he shares with his stepchildren into the tiny apartment of the family of his daughter Roxanna. Lives change in this beautifully told story.

 

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Hindi-Bindi Club
Monica Pradhan
The Hindi-Bindi Club has been meeting regularly for decades for food, gossip and friendship. The women of the club all share a common heritage – they left their native India as young women – and are all now mothers of grown American daughters. Told in alternating chapters, each woman is given voice and long-held secrets are revealed. This is a story of East meets West, of the importance of food (includes recipes), and the special bond between mothers and daughters.

Midnight’s Children
Salman Rushdie
Midnight’s Children follows the fates of two children, both born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the moment India becomes an independent nation. A nurse on duty in the Bombay hospital where they are born switches the two boys. The lower-caste Hindu boy is given to the wealthy Muslim family to raise, while their rightful heir is left to a life of squalor and tenement life. A family saga as well as an historic chronicle told with humor and imagination.

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The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Farahad Zama
Having become bored in his retirement, Mr. Ali decides to open a marriage bureau out of his front room. The bureau soon proves so popular among families looking for suitable mates for their unattached sons and daughters that Mr. Ali takes on a young woman as his assistant. The young and hardworking Aruna takes to the job, even though she herself is not allowed to marry due to family problems. This is a quick and lovely novel with plenty of humor, and musings on what makes a marriage work.

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Suitable Boy
Vikram Seth
The life and times of four families in 1950s India fill this nearly 1500 page novel. A Suitable Boy has been called a soap opera by some and a masterpiece by others. Plenty of Indian history, politics and culture are served up in this page-turner.

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The Case of the Missing Servant
Tarquin Hall
Meet Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator. While most of his business involves matrimonial investigation, Puri pulls out all the stops when called upon to help a lawyer clear his name when accused of murdering a servant girl. With the help of his driver, Handbrake, and operatives Facecream, Tubelight and Flush, Puri orchestrates an ingenious inquiry.

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The Namesake
TJhumpa Lahiri
After uniting in an arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli leave their native India for life in America. Still strangers to one another, and adjusting to their new surroundings, Ashima gives birth to a son. Ashoke insists on naming him Gogul, after the Russian writer, to whom he credits with saving his life long ago on a train. Gogul Ganguli, the American son of Indian immigrants struggles with finding himself in the face of an unusual name and obligations to two cultures.

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The White Tiger
Aravind Adiga
The darker side of modern India comes vividivy to life in this funny yet disturbing novel. Balram, born to the servant class, tells his rags-to-riches story – which includes murdering his master – in a series of letters to the Chinese Premier. Winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2008.

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Homeless Bird
Gloria Whelan
This award winning Young Adult novel tells the story of Koly, who at age 13 is forced into a marriage with a boy she has never met. Spoiled and sickly, her husband dies soon after the weping leaving Koly a widow, and at the mercy of her mother-in-law.

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Q & A: a novel
Vikas Swarup

Ram Mohammad Thomas answered twelve questions correctly to win the grand prize on the quiz show, Who Will Win A Billion (rupees). The producers of the show think this uneducated waiter must have cheated somehow and have him promptly arrested. After hours of interrogation and even torture by the police, a lawyer appears. She soon has Ram released, takes him home, feeds him and then asks only one thing, that he tell her the truth - from the beginning. The life of Ram Mohammad Thomas unfolds in the telling. The academy award winning film, Slumdog Millionaire was based on the novel Q & A.