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Miss New India Hardcover – May 17, 2011
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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.
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
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
More About the Author
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."
Top Customer Reviews
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 ...Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really wanted to like this book. It had such an interesting premise, I liked learning about India, and the first part of the book was good. Read morePublished 1 month ago by BookishShelly
Started out strong then just fizzled. A weak main character with an even weaker personality, disjointed feel to the book's flow. Read morePublished 18 months ago by BettyAnn
No problem with the writing but the story was rather boring and predictable. Most of the characters were underdeveloped and I could work up little sympathy for the main character,... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Lisa-Oh
The book has a weak heroine who struggles to find herself in a new world but fails miserably and then the author just changes her mind . Read morePublished on January 30, 2014 by Jenniee
While I didn't care for the main character, she's opportunistic and manipulative, the overall story of life in India as a single girl was interesting. Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by E. Keating
I don't like this kind of light-weight sensibility in a writer, but I'll give the writer points for an interesting glimpse into the world of new Indian yuppies.Published on March 5, 2013 by Tamis Renteria
I had heard this book was about phone reps in India - whom I speak with everyday. Thought it would give me some understanding into their lives. Read morePublished on February 26, 2013 by Nora M
Good book, enjoyed the picture of India. Wished there would have been more closure with the ending, and Mr GG.Published on February 23, 2013 by Holly Bonanomi
This book was disappointing. I am very much interested in Indian culture and have been very priviliged to know many wonderful Indian people (most unlike the characters in this... Read morePublished on February 9, 2013 by Curt