- Series: Iowa Short Fiction Award
- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877457794
- ISBN-13: 978-0877457794
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,027,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America (Iowa Short Fiction Award) Paperback – October 1, 2001
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Almost all of these stories are first-person accounts of daily events turned slightly unusual, as Fracis utilizes life's minutiae to examine what it means to be simultaneously Indian and American. For Fracis, the struggle is not finding a way to be at once Indian and American. The struggle comes when people want Indian Americans to be one or the other. In "Stray," a young Indian man is fascinated by white women, their pale and pink bodies, while simultaneously dating a young Indian woman whom he knows he would marry if he still lived in Bombay. America wants him to be American, to buy the pale-and-pink definition of beauty, while his family wants him to embrace traditional Indian values. It's a new take on an old conundrum. These stories often lack a clear and consistent narrative voice and tend to end with contrived imagery of closure. Still, there's an audience and a need for books about Indian Americans, and this collection examines issues of racial identity with sensitivity and veracity. John Green
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“Reading Ticket to Minto was an emotional and intellectual joyride I did not want to end. Here is a writer who leaps headlong into the creative furnace—daring, energetic, fresh! This collection of stories will haunt me for years to come.”—Susan Power
“A subtle understanding of human nature, clarity, and intelligence inform this splendid collection. Sohrab Fracis's accurate eye for sensual detail is as evocative of the sights, sounds, and smells of India as it is of the lonelier landscapes of his domicile in America. An original voice stamped with veracity.”—Bapsi Sidhwa, author of The Crow Eaters and Cracking India
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Sohrab Fracis creates a rich variety of Indian characters, beginning with the Parsi schoolboy whose religious faith helps him defeat a bully in the first story, "Ancient Fire" and ending with an Indian-American whose artistic faith keeps him going as a talented author in the last story, "The Mark Twain Overlook."
I notice an underlying sensibility in this collection that appears almost like a character. This sensibility is upper class, cultured, dynamic. It thrives on nuance, at times challenges with ambiguity. It lives as an uneasy minority in India and in America. It values stability and family life but prefers mobility and single life. It searches for love less by convention and more on its own complex terms. It portrays promiscuity with serio-comic effect. It feels for the downtrodden and is painfully aware of class divisions that contribute to India's misery. It casts a keen eye at American provincialism and residual racism. It understands the dilemma of mainstream Americans who are identified with past wrongs to minorities and are trying to right the wrongs but in ways that bring the mainstream more condemnation. It empathizes with the elderly, especially with those who live their declining years with calm and dignity.
It often closes stories with images of remarkable subtlety like the broken tree branch in "Stray" and the drifting hairs of a pickled rabbit's paw in "Rabbit's Foot" (stories in which students from India feel the tug of their country's traditions and life in contemporary America). Arguably, the most skillful use of imagery occurs in the conclusion of "Keeping Time." Here music and writing interweave to underscore an aging piano teacher's alleviation of frustrations and sadness with stoic acceptance.
The stories are set in India and the United States, related by their protagonists - Indian people of different religious groups - Hindu, Muslim, or Parsi - who are condemned to live as outsiders and strangers, abroad in America or even at home in India. Fracis writes about his characters with knife-like insight, but not without humour and poignancy, to show their (inner) struggle. His protagonists fight for recognition, search for love, and try to live a decent live. The writing draws the reader into the stories and into the live of those people. The narrative voice is so startling and colourful and one that takes the reader along on an unforgettable journey between two continents.
I came across the book by chance - but this has been one of the luckiest coincidences ever. I translated the story "Keeping Time" into German and read it to friends and other audiences. The responses were great. It is the underlying universal validity of the stories that make the collection a rewarding read for people even outside India and the United States.
I recommend this book highly to anyone who likes valuable literature and is interested in Indian an American contemporary life and life in general. I can't wait to read more by Sohrab Homi Fracis.