India a Source of Inspiration

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes

Betsy Woodman spent ten childhood years in India; studied in France, Zambia, and the United States; and now lives in her native New Hampshire. She has contributed nonfiction pieces and several hundred book reviews to various publications, and was a writer and editor for the award-winning documentary series Experiencing War, produced for the Library of Congress and aired on Public Radio International.

Leela’s Book by Alice Albina

Award-winning author Albinia (Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River) brings us an intricate story about a disastrous wedding; about two families that couldn’t be more different; about faith, class, and politics in Indian society; and about storytelling itself. It is set in contemporary Delhi and narrated from various viewpoints, including that of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god and scribe of India’s great epic, the Mahabharata. Echoing aspects of the epic tale, the narrative follows the lives of Leela and Meera, sisters who have been victimized through various incarnations by Vyasa, composer of the Mahabharata. However, Ganesh has a few tricks up his (many) sleeves, and it may be time for some modern-day retribution, which starts as Leela arrives in Delhi from New York and throws everyone and everything into deliciously described turmoil. VERDICT Albinia handles the complex plot and many, diverse characters she has created with skill and humor while at the same time offering an insightful look at the sociopolitical complexity of present-day India.

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