Posts Tagged ‘South Asian authors’

This year S. Krishna’s Books again is hosting the South Asian Challenge 2011, inviting readers to discover books by South Asian authors. I will be signing up to read, hoping to post more of my reviews than I did last year. For details or to sign up, visit S. Krishna’s blog. There is an extensive list of reading suggestions as well as links to past reviews. Here’s to a new year of excellent reads!


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As part of the South Asian author challenge hosted by S. Krishna’s Books, and to feed my hunger for young adult novels, I read Gifted by Nikita Lalwani. On a foray into a bookstore the cover art caught my eye, and I requested it from my library. Meanwhile, I had come across several reviews raving about the book.

Gifted is a coming-of-age story about 14-year-old Rumi Vashey, set in Wales. Rumi has an uncanny ability with mathematics, and her father, seeing her as a prodigy, gives her a rigorous study schedule to prepare for possible early entry to Oxford. Lalwani does a good job of describing the layers of awkwardness and confusion that Rumi endures as she becomes more and more withdrawn from her school peers and increasingly worn out from an exhausting regimen. The details veer from predictable (best friend is a fellow chess club member) to the surprising (Rumi develops an addiction to cumin seeds).

While many scenes were well-crafted, and descriptions of inner life and outer surroundings were vibrant, I found I could not connect with Rumi. The author’s style was a bit more distant than what I most enjoy. The father, while not meant to be likable, was almost unbearable for me—almost like a father from Roald Dahl, except for a more human addition of pitifulness.

I will be keeping a close watch for future works from Lalwani, because I can see a lot of potential in her writing.

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A poet’s power lies not only in her well-crafted images but in the rhythm of her recitation. As I read Lahore with Love, the memoir of Fawzia Afzal-Khan, I longed to hear her read the volume aloud. Many parts of her story poured out in a stream of consciousness, and her anecdotes deftly wove between youth and adulthood, lighthearted desires and the pain of loss, politics and the laughter of girlfriends.

Read the rest of my review of this unconventional memoir at the Feminist Review.

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Details for the South Asian Author Challenge can be found at S. Krishna’s Books. I thought this would be a fun one to join, and I hope you will consider participating.

If you need ideas, there is a wonderful author list on S. Krishna’s blog. Some of my favorites include:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Madras on Rainy Days by Samina Ali
The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

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