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Where The Long Grass Bends: Stories Paperback – January 1, 2004
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The Amazon Book Review
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From Publishers Weekly
Vaswani shows impressive range and a striking command of poetic imagery in this debut collection, which features 13 stories dealing mostly with the Indian and Asian immigrant experience. "Sita and Mrs. Durber" describes a British art teacher's struggles to deal with a formidably talented Malaysian kindergartener, whose brilliant drawings reveal uncomfortable truths. "Five Objects in Queens," in which an Indian family uses familiar references from their homeland to help them acclimate to life in New York, falls closer to the terrain carved out by writers like Bharati Mukerjee. On the experimental side, "An Outline of No Direction" is a fascinating, unconventional travelogue in list form that skewers and plays up American stereotypes ("In the South, I ride a roller coaster over Dolly Parton's bosom"). Vaswani's conceits are occasionally murky and vague-"Domestication of an Imaginary Goat," for example, labors with its analogy of a goat as a symbol of a couple's relationship, while "Procession at the Tomb of Sayyed Pir Hazrat Baba Bahadur Saheed Rah Aleh" overreaches in describing the role of spirits in a series of brief episodes. Several other stories are noticeably overwritten, as Vaswani falls victim to the tendency to go for the literary home run and descends into florid, overblown avant-garde cliches. But her talent shines through despite the inconsistencies and missteps, and her distinctive voice augurs well for future efforts. Author appearances in New York and Los Angeles.
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...[S]tories that play with the notion of culture and homeland from a variety of perpectives. -- Kirkus Reviews
Vaswani is a confident writer, whose unflinching eye shows the reader the beauty grounded in the mundane. -- Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 2004
Top customer reviews
This is Neela Vaswani's first book, but her unique voice is already beyond "enormously promising." I can't recommend it highly enough and I just can't wait for her second.
Many of the stories have land-mine lines or images that--spearing out from the artfully crafted exposition or the colossally detailed exposures of character--bury themselves hilt-deep in the reader: a passing reference to a lumpectomy, an innocent question about the demonic nature of higher education. It is moments like these that had me placing the book back on top of the pile when I was done, ready to read it again almost immediately.