Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I Read What Swapna Likes
The I Read It carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books is all about reporting on a book that you read because someone told you that you should. It could be one person's insistence that you would just LOVE this book, and it could be the prolonged accrual over time of reading recommendations on people's blogs.
This month I read two books which were recommended by Swapna at S.Krishna's Books. I first became acquainted with her when I was a judge on last year's Book Blogger Appreciation Awards in one of the categories where she was nominated. I loved many of the books that she loved, so I knew she was someone who I could trust for book recommendations going forward.
her review of The Stuff That Never Happened. Actually, let me be clear -- I sort of skimmed-ish her review, because I don't read reviews of books I haven't read yet. But I knew she liked it. It was in my review stack, having picked it up at BEA in May, but I didn't have any immediate plans to read it. However, having recently read and/or listened to a bunch of YA fiction and more esoteric literary fiction written by men, I was completely ready for some great women's fiction, and Maddie Dawson delivered. I read The Stuff That Never Happened: A Novel in two short days and loved it. Look for a full review in coming weeks at 5 Minutes for Books, but this was just the perfect book for the perfect time, which makes it a perfect fit for the I Read It carnival, because had I not seen S.Krishna's review, I wouldn't have picked it up at that time, and I wouldn't have had such a delightful reading weekend.
A couple of months ago, I saw The Sari Shop Widow on the Kindle free list, so I snatched it up, knowing that Swapna had enjoyed it, and hoping to use it to fulfill my goal in the South Asian Authors challenge (linked to my post with my updates along the way).
The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal is the story of a woman, Anjali, who runs a sari shop and boutique with her parents. Having been widowed at a young age, she lives with her parents, sneaking away to meet with her "friend with benefits" when she can. She's lonely, but she doesn't want to risk love again, and she's happy building the business with her parents. When the business is in trouble, a not-so-lovable uncle comes to town to save them, bringing with him an uninvited guest. Anjali begins to wonder if all the effort has been worth it, and what she's going to do now.
This book is something rare indeed -- multicultural chick lit. Though I don't love that term (I don't have downy feathers, do you??), to me "chick lit," as opposed to women's fiction, is something that is fairly light and probably has a romance element. Stereotyping again, most of the fiction I've read by South Asian authors has been a bit deeper (one reason I love it), and for that matter, most of what is branded as "chick lit" features white middle class women. So if you want to explore cultures through reading, but find a lot of multicultural lit to be a bit heavy and/or depressing for your taste, check out The Sari Shop Widow. It is light, but features nicely developed characters, and a real taste of the "little India" section of in a town in New Jersey. In fact, at the end of the book, Bantwal encouraged readers to go have an Indian pastry or check out a Sari shop in such an enclave near them, and this made me love the book and her even more!