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Miss New India Hardcover – May 17, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618646531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618646531
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anjali Bose is “Miss New India.” Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family and living in a backwater town with an arranged marriage on the horizon, Anjali’s prospects don’t look great. But her ambition and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her expat teacher, Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny. 

So she sets off to Bangalore, India’s fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Seinfeld in order to get jobs as call-center service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents. And it is in this high-tech city where Anjali—suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender, and more—is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side.

Recommended Summer Reading from the Author of Miss New India

Fiction:

1) Téa Obrecht, The Tiger’s Wife

2) Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

3) Karen Russell, Swamplandia!

4) Clark Blaise, The Meagre Tarmac

5) Gustave Flaubert, (translated by Lydia Davis), Madame Bovary

6) Abraham Verghese, Cutting For Stone

Non-Fiction:

1) Doug Saunders, Arrival City

2) Simon Winchester, The Alice Behind Wonderland

3) Ben Ryder Howe, My Korean Deli

4) (trans. Wheeler Thackston), The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor

A Note from the Author

Dear Amazon Readers:

I grew up in Kolkata, India, in a large and loving, traditionally patriarchal Hindu family, headed by my father. Though my father was not the eldest male in the extended Mukherjee family, he had been co-opted as patriarch because he was the most educated, and had founded a prosperous pharmaceutical company. I watched my father accustom himself to the demands of the role of patriarch, which meant having to provide for, and to protect, scores of uncles, aunts, cousins, and strangers who claimed to be our distant relatives. For him, as with Anjali Bose’s father in my novel, Miss New India, discharging duty was the utmost expression of love.

In families like mine, a father’s greatest obligation was to marry off his daughter to a good provider. With that in mind, my father sent me to Loreto House, the school of choice for over-sheltered girls from well-off families in Kolkata. It was an English-medium school, run by Irish nuns from Galway. The nuns’ goal was to groom us to become wives of the city’s future leaders. We were being trained to be chaste and graceful young women who spoke English as fluently as we did our mother-tongue. To improve our English vocabulary, the nuns encouraged us to read British novels. My two favorite novels were W. M. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I was entranced by the adventures of gutsy, ambitious Becky Sharp and Jane Eyre, because they each had to make their her way in life without any help from protective, well-connected parents. My admiration for those fictional, self-made women who surmounted obstacles in their pursuits of love and happiness may have contributed to my having jettisoned myself out of my father’s patriarchal reach and the comforting familiarity of my hometown by marrying—much to my father’s consternation—--an American fellow- student after a two-week courtship at the University of Iowa’s famous Writers’ Workshop.

I became fascinated with India-based call-center employees and their dual identities (American at work; Indian at home) when, some years ago, I was activating a credit card on the phone, and the agent at the other end of the line struggled valiantly to disguise her Indian English accent and pass herself off as a mid-western American. The character of Anjali/Angie Bose jelled for me while I was visiting my first cousin and her husband, retired UN personnel in their retirement home in Bangalore, the IT hub in India. My cousin had invited a family with a twenty-something daughter who was working as a customer support agent in a call-center. The parents had wanted to meet me because they had read my novels and because they knew I lived in San Francisco and hoped that I could put them in touch with rich, Silicon Valley–-based potential bridegrooms. The afternoon started off amiably, with the parents exaggerating the accomplishments of their daughter and wondering out loud why she was still unmarried. But midway through the visit, the daughter began to show her rebellious side. She told her father to back off matchmaking, which led to an ugly shouting match. The visit had to be aborted when both daughter and father had a public “melt-down” in my cousin’s living -room. Later that week, she came to see me by herself, and talked compellingly about her conflicts with her traditional, controlling parents and about her hopes and ambitions for herself. Through her I met many of her call-center friends—, adventurous, young, working women from families of modest means, stuck in provincial towns. They talked freely to me about their hopes for themselves and the pride they took in being financially independent. They were lively women, many of them away from home and vigilant family chaperones for the first time, and eager for romance even if it didn’t lead to marriage. They inspired me with their conviction that they had an inalienable right to personal happiness. They saw themselves as pioneers of a sort, in charge of their futures, accountable for their failures as well as their successes. They shared their dreams with me, some of them said, because they saw me as an early version of themselves. I saw them as brave time-travelers moving away from the torpors of tradition and eventless adolescence, heading into a dazzling, technologically advanced future packed with events.

--Bharati Mukherjee

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Who better to capture the seismic shifts under way in India as the digital revolution takes hold than laser-precise and sharply witty Mukherjee? In each of her dramatic, slyly satirical novels, she dissects the legacy of colonialism, the paradoxes of technology, and the traditions that shackle Indian women. Mukherjee subtly continues the stories of the sisters from Desirable Daughters (2002) and The Tree Bride (2004) as she introduces Anjali Bose, a smart, rebellious 19-year-old who flees her provincial town after her father's attempt to arrange her marriage goes catastrophically wrong. With the help of her scholarly, covertly gay, expat American teacher, Anjali finds refuge in a decaying mansion, a remnant of the Raj, in Bangalore, the booming capital of call centers and electronic start-ups. There the brave country girl undergoes a crash course in urban life and the fizzing world of outsourcing, avatars, and social networks. Each character fascinates, and every detail glints with irony and intent, as Mukherjee brilliantly choreographs her compelling protagonist's struggles against betrayal, violence, and corruption in a dazzling plot that cunningly considers forms of tyranny blatant and insidious in a metamorphosing society. Mukherjee's resilient Miss New India takes as her mantra a line from her photographer friend: "Nothing in the world is as it seems--it's all a matter of light and angles." HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Acclaimed Mukherjee's take on outsourcing and India's rise will provoke lively discussion. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Award-winning Indian-born American author Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta (now called Kolkata) in 1940, the second of three daughters born to Bengali-speaking, Hindu Brahmin parents. She lived in a house crowded with 40 or 50 relatives until she was eight, when her father's career brought the family to live in London for several years.

She returned to Calcutta in the early 1950s where she attended the Loreto School. She received her B.A. from the University of Calcutta in 1959 as a student of Loreto College, and earned her M.A. from the University of Baroda in 1961. She next travelled to the United States to study at the University of Iowa, where she received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1963 and her Ph.D. in 1969 from the department of Comparative Literature.

After more than a decade living in Montreal and Toronto in Canada, Mukherjee and her husband, internationally acclaimed author Clark Blaise, returned to the United States. She wrote of the decision in "An Invisible Woman," published in a 1981 issue of "Saturday Night." Mukherjee and Blaise co-authored "Days and Nights in Calcutta (1977) and "The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy (Air India Flight 182)" (1987).
Mukherjee taught at McGill University, Skidmore College, Queens College, and City University of New York. She is currently a professor in the English department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mukherjee is best known for her novels "The Tiger's Daughter" (1971); "Wife" (1975); "Jasmine" (1989); "The Holder of the World" (1993); "Leave It to Me" (1997); "Desirable Daughters" (2002); "The Tree Bride" (2004); and "Miss New India" (2011). Her short story collections and memoirs include "Darkness" (1985); "The Middleman and Other Stories" (1988); and "A Father". Non Fiction works include: "Days and Nights in Calcutta"; and "The Sorrow and the Terror."

She was the winner of the 1988 National Book Critics Circle Award for "The Middleman and Other Stories."

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Customer Reviews

In fact I think she even stops thinking at times and just does!
Kiwiflora
B. Characters My biggest problem with the story was the main character, Anjali.
Harkius
I skipped lots of the book, the story just couldn't hold my interest.
SPARKY0210

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Miss New India is the latest novel of UC Berkeley professor of English, Bharati Mukherjee. It is an interesting but not particularly memorable addition to her canon celebrating the Indian woman. It is an optimistic tale of one young woman's self-actualization in what is now known as the "New India."

In the three of her previous novels which I have read, Mukherjee liberally employed the use of traditional women's issues in India together with contemporary socio-economic themes. This vast area is revisited in this newest story set in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India and the fastest growing urban center of high net worth individuals in all of India.

Many of Mukherjee's readers will recognize some of her characters from previous stories, reemerging in familiar territory which she once again sweeps in Miss New India - gender, caste, class, patriarchy, parenting, arranged marriages, history, the Raj, cultural values, education, high technology, entrepreneurship, affluence, rural versus urban, East versus West. To the list one can add homosexuality, Tran sexuality, feminism, expatriation, repatriation, international terrorism. She covers it all and this time there is even more - outsourcing, call centers and the mass migration of young women from the backwater villages to the big modern cities.

The heroine of
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bharati Mukherjee's new novel "Miss New India" is an engaging look at the changes that have swept India in the past twenty or so years, as advances in technology have opened doors to new-found prosperity and many young, savvy, and ambitious Indians have poured through those doors.

Anjali Bose is a lucky young lady in many ways. She's smart and good with languages and very pretty. Not "Bollywood" beautiful, but playfully attractive. She draws people to her with a magnetic personality. But at age 19, she is at a crossroads in her life. Her parents are trying to arrange a marriage for her; that's what proper young middle-class women aspire to. A home with a husband and children, and very little use of the good education she has received in Guaripur. She is resisting the whole marriage-at-an-early-age, and in that she has the support of one of her teachers. Peter Champion, an American who has landed in Guaripur twenty or so years before, sees possibilities far beyond the small town world for Anjali Bose. After a botched attempt at match-making with a seemingly perfect "boy", Anjali flees her parents' home and Guaipur for the booming city of Bangalore. She's aided by Peter Champion, who gives her money and some contacts in Bangalore.

Anjali eventually reaches Bangalore and she realises that "New India" is open for her. A few adventures and those contacts help Anjali reach for the top. Bharati Mukherjee is a joyous writer and she opens up modern-day India to the reader with a richness of characters and plot in her novel. Not a "Cinderella story", we see Anjali succeed by using her wits, beauty, and charm, helped along with a good amount of luck. There's not necessarily a "Prince Charming" at the end of the book, but Anjali learns that she can make her way without one. Mukharjee's other characters are so well drawn that the reader feels as comfortable with them as they do with Anjali.

All in all, a wonderful and fun novel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue VINE VOICE on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Miss New India," is the latest novel from award-winning Indian-American author Bharati Mukherjee. The author, who has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, has published seven previous novels, and two story collections. In MISS NEW INDIA, Mukherjee subtly continues the stories of the Indian sisters from her popular previous publications Desirable Daughters: A Novel (2002), andThe Tree Bride (2004). The writer here introduces us to Anjali Bose ("Call Me Angie"), a smart, rebellious, 19-year old, who may be considered the "Miss New India." Angie has been born into a traditional lower-middle-class family; her dad is a railways clerk, a job sanctioned and sanctified by generations of Indians; but a job with rather pinched horizons. The family lives in Gauripur, a dusty backwater town in the state of Bihar. And Angie's Dad is seeking to enforce a traditional arranged marriage on her. So Anjali's prospects don't look great. But Angie has good looks - although not traditional Indian looks-- as she is rather tall and slim, and has light-colored eyes. And a great smile. As well as ambition and fluency in the English language. All this does not go unnoticed by her expatriate university English teacher, the American Peter Champion. So champion her he does, with financial help, and by giving her introductions to powerful people he knows from his other lives, who can help her along.

Champion also stimulates Angie's ambition, and, eventually, her father's efforts at making an arranged match for her having ended in all-around disaster, she secretly sets off to Bangalore.
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