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The Hope Factory: A Novel Hardcover – April 23, 2013

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Anand Murthy is a driven young man who, despite his birth into the scholarly Brahmin caste of Bangalore, makes a name for himself as an entrepreneur in the field of automotive engineering. When his small factory begins to attract international contracts, Anand needs to acquire land. One of his servants, Kamala, is also in need of space, namely, a place where her son can grow into manhood without bad influences. Anand and Kamala narrate Sankaran’s masterful novel in turns, each aware of the other’s trials through the master-servant relationship they share. Though they exist in separate economic and social spheres, they are linked by the common threads of optimism and hard work. The different information each narrator is privy to enables the reader to see the middle ground between them, a device that creates irresistible tension and makes this novel impossible to put down. Within this compelling tale, Sankaran addresses government corruption in India, and the balance that must be struck between new industry and the traditions of the past in a culture where both are essential for survival. --Amber Peckham

Review

Praise for Lavanya Sankaran’s The Red Carpet
 
“By the end of [the] very first story, people half a world away have been transformed into complete human beings, full of frailties and fragile self-regard, achingly sympathetic. That’s why The Red Carpet reads like a revelation. . . . I recommend this book so highly!”—Carolyn See, The Washington Post
 
“Throughout these fine, articulate stories, Lavanya Sankaran brings to life the new and old social worlds of Bangalore. More important, she uses the quiet dignity of her characters to reveal what’s universal in the wide rift between generations. It’s an unusually elegant and nuanced portrait.”—John Dalton, author of The Inverted Forest
 
“It’s a pity there aren’t more stories to be told in Carpet. They’re so much fun.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“[An] animated debut . . . [These stories] are memorable for their subtle wit and convincing evocation of a dynamic world.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press; 1st Printing edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385338198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385338196
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,915,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By fiction_fridaynirvana_com on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is the story of two main protagonists - Anand K. Murthy who runs his own business, and Kamala, a housemaid who works in his home. Anand is the owner of Cauvery Auto, a small factory which manufactures pressed metal sheets for car parts. He is marries to Vidya and they have two kids. Kamala works at the Murthy home. Her overarching objective in life is to educate her young son Narayan so he can have a bright future, and for that she scrimps and saves.

Both Anand and Kamala, socially and financially in very different classes, face large life-changing problems. The author touches on important struggles via Anand and Kamala's stories, and creates a very believable picture of modern Indian society. It is divided into the haves-and-the have-nots, Kamala and Anand at the ends of a very deep chasm between the two. Society seems to be losing its moral moorings. Greed knows no bounds, and a culture of kowtowing to the rich and powerful, while treading upon the weak, seems to be very much the rage.

This book seemed pleasant reading from the outset, but as it progressed it gathered heft and conviction, resulting in a very satisfying read. The author develops her characters and their settings very well and her writing is heartfelt. Her unfussy prose, descriptive detail and deft characterization make reading a pleasure. I enjoyed this book very much, and would highly recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two families face working in Bangalore face very different challenges. It took a bit of courtship for me to like the earnest, hard working Anand. I was as mystified as Anand himself with his spoiled and sometimes vicious wife, Vidya. The labyrinthine toils of his business day can run long, but are perhaps the only ways to convey the struggles he put forth daily. Finally what wins the day for Anand is his lovely relationship with his children.

Meanwhile toiling in his home is the noble Kamala. Widowed young, she has given her all for her son Narayan. I have to love Narayan. He is much more of a Momma's boy than the blurb seems to imply. And he has a witty side. Honestly Kamala can be a pill. Her stony climb to precarious safety is a story of deep determination that she herself cedes has sucked her essence.

The book ended up compelling me despite our rocky start. The world of Bangalore is a world away. The press of population is beyond what I can easily understand. While the characters certainly have a universality, they are also foreign in their unquestioning assumption of duty and propriety. Family discord is a much deeper concern to these characters than one might see in the West. So I would recommend a trip to the world of the hope factory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By muddyboy1 on May 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This review might just be evidence of a cultural divide between myself and many foreign authors. The book is a well written and sensitive portrayal of two families. One is that of the owner of the "Hope Factory" and the other is that of the family of one of his servants. Both wish for better lives for themselves and those they love and are linked together with regard to the success of the factory. The characters are the kind you root for in a book but the problem for me is that not a whole lot really goes on in terms of the action which might just be my Western impatience to move the plot along. Still, it is a worthwhile book for those who would like to learn about Indian culture.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bangalore's transition from a sleepy regional city (as I remember it from my 1977 visit) into bustling technology mega-city is at the heart of this interesting if not tremendously compelling novel: its two main characters, factory owner Anand and his wife's domestic servant Kamala must grapple in very different ways with the challenges presented by that transformation.

For his part, Anand must find new land in order to expand his thriving business, an auto supplier that his Brahmin father is slightly embarrassed by and prefers to describe as a technology business. That's tough in Bangalore: land is scarce and determining ownership and getting all the permissions in order is tough, requiring all kinds of fixers. That leads Anand into the grip of some unsavory characters, from his busybody father in law to unscrupulous political operatives.

Then there's Kamala, whose transition from casual laborer on building sites sleeping rough to domestic servant with her own tiny room in which she raises her young teenage son is truly awe-inspiring. But she needs to keep her son focused on education so that he will have a chance at the kind of success that has come to her employer's husband and for that she needs either money or a mentor willing to take her son under his wing. And at the same time, her hard-won independence is jeopardized by the same kinds of changes in the use of land that Anand is grappling to navigate.

The two narratives are largely parallel, overlapping only through Anand's wife, the self-centered and social-climbing Vidya. And it's the relationship between Vidya and Anand that helps to turn this potentially intriguing novel's plot into something far more banal.
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