In My Hands Today…

The Story Hour – Thrity Umrigar

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An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realising that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardise their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.

In My Hands Today…

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo

11869272Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting“ in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi’s “most-everything girl” — will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”

But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.

Fasting, Feasting – Anita Desai

271734A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejuices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating. In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US. or both.

Uma, the plain, older daughter still lives at home, frustrated in her attempts to escape and make a life for herself. Her Indian family is difficult, demanding but mostly, good hearted. Despite her disappointments, Uma comes through as the survivor, avoiding an unfulfilling marriage, like her sister’s or a suicidal one, like that arranged for her pretty cousin.

And in America, where young Arun goes as a student, men in the suburbs char hunks of bleeding meat while the women don’t appear to cook or eat at all – seems bewildering and terrifying to the young Indian adolescent far from home.

In My Hands Today…

A House for Mr Biswas – V.S. Naipaul

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Mohun Biswas has spent his 46 years of life striving for independence. Shuttled from one residence to another after the drowning of his father, he yearns for a place he can call home. He marries into the Tulsi family, on whom he becomes dependent, but rebels and takes on a succession of occupations in a struggle to weaken their hold over him.”

In My Hands Today…

Cut Like Wound – Anita Nair

16090131It is the first night of Ramadan. At Shivaji Nagar in the heart of Bangalore, a young male prostitute is killed and burnt alive. It would have stayed as yet another unsolved murder, but for Inspector Borei Gowda, the investigating officer.

As bodies begin to pile up one after the other, and it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the prowl, Gowda recognizes a pattern in the killings which no one recognises Even as he negotiates serious mid-life blues, problems with his wife and son, an affair with an ex-girlfriend, and official apathy and ridicule, the killer moves in for the next victim…

In My Hands Today…

Monsoon Memories – Renita D’Silva

17694603Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London.

Memories of her childhood – exotic fragrances, colours, stifling heat and tropical storms – fill Shirin with a familiar and growing ache for the land and the people that she loves.

With the recollections, though, come dark clouds of scandal and secrets. Secrets that forced her to flee her old life and keep her from ever returning.

Thousands of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames.

Determined to solve the mystery of an aunt she never knew, Reena’s efforts will set in place a chain of events that expose the painful trauma of the past and irrevocably change the path of the future.