The Village by Nikita Lalwani – Mini Book Review

The Village by Nikita Lalwani
Published by Random House

Publisher’s description:

After a long journey from England, Ray Bhullar arrives early on a winter morning at the gates of a remote Indian village called Ashwer which will be her home for the next three months. The door of the hut she will share with Serena, her English co-worker, is a loose sheet of metal, the windows simple holes in the walls. Beyond the lockless door, village life goes on as usual. And yet, the village is anything but normal. Despite the domestic chores being carried out, cooking, fetching water and sewing and laundering linens, Ashwer is a village of murderers, an experimental open prison. And when Ray and her crew take up residence, to observe and to make a documentary, it seems that they are innocent visitors into a violent world, on a mission to hold the place up to viewers as the ultimate example of tolerance. But the longer Ray and her colleagues stay and their need for drama intensifies, the line between innocence and guilt begins to blur and an unexpected and terrifying new kind of cruelty emerges. A mesmerizing and heartfelt tale of manipulation and personal morality, Nikita Lalwani’s new novel brilliantly exposes how truly frail our moral judgment can be.

This is a really fascinating novel and now, in the wake of my Orange is the New Black obsession, I find myself thinking about it even more. The main character is a BBC producer of Indian heritage visiting this open prison in India, and the ways she interacts with the prisoners, is fascinating, with both their cultural and class differences. Ray finds herself in the middle between her white BBC colleagues and the Indian prisoners. In addition to issues of race and culture, Lalwani also examines different approaches to justice. If you’ve already finished binging on Orange is the New Black, check out The Village for a prison story with a totally different approach.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.


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The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair – Book Review

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
Published by Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette

At some level, Rakhee knew her mother wasn’t happy in their home in the Midwest; at some level she may have even known that her mother’s heart did not truly belong to her father. Safe at home, however, these facts are (mostly) easy to ignore. To children parents are parents, they are not unique people. When Rahkee’s mother takes her to visit India, she is pulled unwillingly into the realization that her mother is a real person, with real desires that may not involve either Rakhee or her father. In the midst of these adolescent realizations, Rakhee finds a secret garden out behind her family’s house and what may be her family’s greatest secret.

The Girl in the Garden is a beautiful coming of age novel, an immediately engaging story. Rakhee is a likeable narrator, but appropriately flawed. As any adolescent she can be demanding and obnoxious, but she is also trying to hold her family together the  best that she can. Certainly she is willful, but it is that very willfulness that leads her to the garden and gives her the knowledge to either break her family apart or bring it back together.

Nair’s lush writing pulled me right in, and the emotional depth she imparted upon her young narrator kept me turning the pages. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: publisher, for an episode of What’s Old is New.
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