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Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393062977
ISBN-10: 039306297X
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this prescient look at contemporary Indian society, Mumbai-based Fontanella-Khan follows the case of a young woman arrested on charges of theft who claims she was, in fact, raped by her accuser. Her salvation comes at the hands of a basically illiterate former child bride who is the de facto leader of a grassroots organization of women, the Pink Gang. These primarily poor women in their distinctive saris bring attention to abuses of power on the part of elected officials, private individuals, and the police. They defend the victim and make her a cause célèbre, and soon her case rivets the nation. This story alone makes this title appealing, but Fontanella-Khan also peels back the layers of these women’s lives, revealing private struggles and the insidious manner in which politics and corruption are woven into daily Indian life in a society with no regard for personal rights and a disastrously dysfunctional legal system. Fontanella-Khan masterfully exposes the complications of Indian life and the ongoing struggle for women to be heard. --Colleen Mondor

Review

“With her usual deep reporting, humane storytelling, clarity of explanation, and wry humor, Fontanella-Khan brings to life a group of women who have overcome origins and odds most of us can not even imagine to create a movement that might very well change India—and the West’s image of what it means to be a woman in the Third World.” (Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women)

“Riveting, inspiring, and relevant…. A fast-paced, powerful, and sympathetic portrait of a victim and her subaltern champion in the dusty heart of northern India.” (Meenakshi Venkat - New York Journal of Books)

“A powerful, engrossing portrait of one woman’s fight for female empowerment in India. Sampat Pal’s extraordinary courage will inspire you, delight you, and fill you with hope.” (Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars)

“Having interviewed the principals and reviewed available newspaper accounts, Fontanella-Khan brings a novelist’s pacing to a timely page-turner that is essentially political; party politics, political corruption, and the wretched treatment of rape victims are her true subjects.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An inspiring profile… highly recommended for all applicable collections.” (Library Journal)

“This beautifully rendered book is a call to women everywhere to take the world into your hands, to rise and resist.” (Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and In the Body of the World)

“A fine tribute to a remarkable woman, a close look at an India that still exists beneath the economic boom of recent years, and a rousing reminder that formidable will can make a difference.” (The New Republic)

“A nuanced humanizing portrait of a teenage-mother-turned-social-crusader who is loud, boastful and blessed with a wicked sense of humor.” (John McMurtrie - San Francisco Chronicle)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039306297X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062977
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melinda on January 26, 2015
Format: Paperback
There is a female ‘gang’ to be reckoned with in India. This ‘gang’ is known as the Pink Sari Gang comprised of numerous women serving females in need of assistance and/or support. Their formidable leader and founder, the memorable Sampat Pal.

The book explains the flagrant corruption in politics and law enforcement, the ill treatment of women, and the poverty suffered by provincial citizens. These deep rooted issues have been plaguing India for some time, nothing new to the reader or anyone aware of India.

Sampat Pal is memorable. We learn of her as well as her story in the creation of her ‘gang.’ She’s brash, lacking a filter and often resorts to physical means. Arrogant and fearless, she uses her position and power to help others but her vigilante tactics leave you questioning her approach. I am thrilled women are being heard in India, there is a loud voice supporting women but the amount of aggression demonstrated leaves me asking Is this the ONLY way for females to heard? The only means to achieve equality?

Interesting story, wonderful concept but you will question Sampat Pal as well as her tactics. I hope this is the beginning for women not only limited to India but world wide to be treated equally and their voices heard, encouraging the respect woman are due. Perhaps a brusque and forceful manner is the only way to breakthrough the oppression females face, this juror is still deliberating.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gamaliel Isaac on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an inspiring story about women with tremendous courage who rose against exploitation in order to defeat it. The most remarkable woman in this story is Sampat Pal a woman who rose out of poverty to become a mighty force to be reckoned with. If only we had her kind of courage in the West the world would be a much better place. It makes me wonder, "Where are the feminists in the West? Why aren't they standing with Sampat Pal? Why aren't they at least raising money for her? Why do Western feminists who have it so good exaggerate their problems while ignoring their sisters who are suffering?"
This book is well written and for the most part the author lets the story tell itself without interjecting her biases. I have been to India several times but had difficulty understanding the country and the people there. I understand the country a lot better as a result of having read this book. I recommend this book for people who want to understand India, and for those who want to read an inspiring tale about women in revolt against corruption and exploitation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LSP NYC on October 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wish it were better written, but the story and the people are fascinating. Did you know the police force of Uttar Pradesh is considered the biggest crime organization in the world? For better writing, read "Behind the Beautiful Tomorrows" but this concerns one woman and what she's doing to correct things, so it's uplifting, not depressing.
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Format: Hardcover
This critical, powerful and well-written book is so necessary now.

I leave you with Fontanella-Khan's words:

"There is no doubt that a strong Pink Gang is needed now more than ever. The challenge criminal politicians pose is a national problem.

This may be the main reason why life in India is steadily worsening for women, who suffer the most when the police and judiciary systems are corrupted. In the past four decades, the number of reported rapes has shot up by 792 percent. Conviction rates, however, are dropping. A similar story is found in domestic violence, which has climbed by 30 percent in the same time period. Across the board, crimes against women have been increasing.

The scale of the problem, which seems insurmountable, has made Sampat even more bent on social justice. She thinks she knows how it can be achieved. Drawing on the wisdom she learned when taking on powerful landlords as a mere child (and I must interject here - one of my favorite parts of the book!!) she says, "If the problem is big, we must become even bigger than it. In unity there is a lot of power."

Sampat is a true She-roe - and those of us in the Western world can learn a great deal from her courage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. d'Artagnan Love on January 24, 2015
Format: Paperback
Sampat Pal is a force to be reckoned with. Fontanella-Khan credits her with single handedly starting a revolutionary women’s rights organization in India’s most corrupt and crime ridden areas of Uttar-Pradesh. Pink Sari Revolution follows the story of Sheelu, a young woman accused of stealing from a corrupt legislator. Sheelu is arrested and the legislator threatens her family with murder and every number of unsavory crimes. Woven into this story are anecdotes about Sampat Pal and how she came to found the Pink Gang. To read the rest of my review, click here: http://thewritereader.blogspot.com/2014/11/82-pink-sari-revolution-by-amana.html
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Francis on October 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Indian TV news is often mystifying. There are at least ten sides to every juicy story and the media waters are quickly muddied by antagonistic political and community leaders shouting reciprocal accusations in front of picketing mobs. I'm often left with a feeling that the real story will never be told and wishing I had the inside scoop.

In the words of one Pink Sari Gang member, "Didi (big sister) will get to the bottom of this!" A champion for the powerless innocent and a thorn in the side of ineffectual bureaucracy, Sampat Pal is the unstoppable avatar of the Goddess Durga, unleashing the righteous swords of more than 20,000 vigilante women fed up with systemic abuse and corruption.

The rise of the Pink Sari Gang is plotted against the backdrop of local politics in rural Uttar Pradesh. A young girl is imprisoned, accused of stealing a phone and a gun from the home of a district politician. The girl alleges rape. Her father is in hiding. A young man says the girl is his wife. Who if anyone is telling the truth? What power relationships are in play?

Amana Fontanella-Khan's account brings you up close to the particulars of rural poverty and power, where justice is for those who can afford to bribe the police, if they haven't already been bought.

In India, truth is definitely stranger than fiction and this intimate treatment brings out the vibrance and vision of women working together to achieve what none could do alone. Risking violence and death threats, Sampat Pal's vigilantes wear pink saris, carry sticks and crowd into the local jail seeking justice for the imprisoned girl.

Amana Fontanella-Khan's treatment is rare and insightful, delivering much of the narrative directly in the women's voices.
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