India -- fiction

Beach Boy

By Ardashir Vakil

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"Eight-year-old Cyrus Readymoney introduces us to his magical universe of movies and mischief; tennis tournaments and truant afternoons; sex and samosas; the sea and the shore. Exploring Bombay in the early 1970s, Cyrus strays from his mostly absent parents, members of the Parsi elite, into the complex world of his neighbors, including a mysterious maharani and her seductive adopted daughter. In his travels, he experiences the splendor of Hindi films and delights in all manner of mouthwatering food.

"But in the course of his wanderings, Cyrus finds himself caught between the innocence and insouciance of his youth and the responsibility and worry that await him in adulthood. When his parents' marriage falls apart and his family is shattered, Cyrus is forced out of his carefree existence into a more severe reality. With an acute ear for the nuances of Indian English and a comic appreciation of a boy's life, Ardashir Vakil creates an extraordinarily vivid tableau of India while at the same time drawing a rich portrait of adolescence and its appetites."

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The Namesake

By Jhumpa Lahiri

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"...takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world."

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A Suitable Boy

By Vikram Seth

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Set in the post-colonial India of the 1950s, this sprawling saga involves four families--the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis and the Khans--whose domestic crises illuminate the historical and social events of the era. Like an old-fashioned soap opera (or a Bombay talkie), the multi-charactered plot pits mothers against daughters, fathers against sons, Hindus against Muslims and small farmers against greedy landowners facing government-ordered dispossession. The story revolves around independent-minded Lata Mehra: Will she defy the stern order of her widowed upper-caste Hindu mother by marrying the Muslim youth she loves? The search for Lata's husband expands into a richly detailed and exotically vivid narrative that crisscrosses the fabric of India
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Sharpe's Tiger: Richard Sharpe and the Seige of Seringapatam, 1799

By Bernard Cornwell

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In a battery of events that will make a hero out of an illiterate private, a young Richard Sharpe poses as the enemy to bring down a ruthless Indian dictator backed by fearsome French troops. The year is 1799, and Richard Sharpe is just beginning his military career.

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The Death of Vishnu

By Manil Suri

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"At the opening of this masterful debut novel, Vishnu lies dying on the staircase he inhabits while his neighbors the Pathaks and the Asranis argue over who will pay for an ambulance. As the action spirals up through the floors of the apartment building we are pulled into the drama of the residents' lives: Mr. Jalal's obsessive search for higher meaning; Vinod Taneja's longing for the wife he has lost; the comic elopement of Kavita Asrani, who fancies herself the heroine of a Hindi movie. Suffused with Hindu mythology, this story of one apartment building becomes a metaphor for the social and religious divisions of contemporary India, and Vishnu's ascent of the staircase parallels the soul's progress through the various stages of existence. As Vishnu closes in on the riddle of his own mortality, we wonder whether he might not be the god Vishnu, guardian not only of the fate of the building and its occupants, but of the entire universe."

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A Fine Balance

By Rohinton Mistry

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The eagerly awaited novel from the author of the award-winning Such a Long Journey is set in India in the mid-1970s. A "State of Internal Emergency" has been declared, and in the days of bleakness and hope that follow, four disparate people find their lives becoming unexpectedly and inextricably entwined.

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