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review 2017-07-10 02:17
Magic Carpet Ride
Pashmina - Nidhi Chanani

 

Pashmina is the story of an artistic high school girl, Priyanka, whose mother immigrated to America from India before she was born. Priyanka wants to know more about the Indian culture, and about her father, but her mother refuses to discuss either one. To make matters worse, Priyanka’s favorite uncle is having a child of his own and she feels left out. Then Priyanka finds a magical pashmina in an old suitcase, which transports her to the colorful, fascinating India of her dreams. Luckily, her aunt, who still lives in India, calls and invites Priyanka to visit. This visit answers Priyanka’s questions, shows her what her mother’s life was like before she left, and helps her continue her own artistic journey upon her return.

 

The strengths of this graphic novel are in the simple but endearing illustrations, the bursts of color that signal the pashmina’s magical escapades, and in the characterization of the teen lead, whose angsty behavior is just edgy enough without being off-putting. This would be a great companion to American Born Chinese or Persepolis, and could be enjoyed by students in middle or high school.

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review 2015-09-24 17:47
AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  Ifemula leaves Nigeria to come to America to complete her education. Obinze, while wanting to go to America, goes to England. The lives they live there are different than what they anticipated. They live immigrant lives which includes lying to get jobs, pretending to be others, taking the lowest jobs available. Both eventually return to Nigeria, changed by their experiences, yet trying to find their pasts.

I enjoyed the story. I could not easily relate to Ifemula. I had an easier time relating to
Ifemula leaves Nigeria to come to America to complete her education. Obinze, while wanting to go to America, goes to England. The lives they live there are different than what they anticipated. They live immigrant lives which includes lying to get jobs, pretending to be others, taking the lowest jobs available. Both eventually return to Nigeria, changed by their experiences, yet trying to find their pasts.

I enjoyed the story. I could not easily relate to Ifemula. I had an easier time relating to Obinze. I had a hard time understanding why someone spends their life wanting to leave their homeland, leaves it, then returns but spends their time looking at the negatives of the society and thinking of the things they left behind.

I liked learning of the cultural differences and how they change a person's perspective of a society and culture. I also liked seeing the U.S. from another culture's point of view. It was eye-opening.
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review 2014-11-10 20:30
The Magic Barrel - Bernard Malamud,Jhumpa Lahiri

This collection of short stories won the National Book Award in 1958. I don't think as many people read Malamud now as they once did, and indeed I have several students who've never heard of his, which is a great pity.  These are beautiful stories of the Jewish immigrant experience, haunted by the Holocaust, poignant and full of struggle.  I know of few writers who capture the feeling of wanting what we cannot have, of wanting to be what we cannot be, which is at the heart of all dramatic fiction, better than Malamud.

 

There is a universality to these stories, although they are peopled almost exclusively with Jews, that I find lacking in contemporary fiction, which in comparison often seems clever but lacking heart. 

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review 2014-10-16 14:52
Arranged Marriage: Stories by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Arranged Marriage: Stories - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sometimes it so happens that when you read too many books from the same author, you begin to easily feel too comfortable with the theme and you can end up even predicting the end and can easily sniff what is happening after having just read a few pages. I had the same feeling with this book. After having read atleast four books prior to reading Arranged Marriage, I was not quite impressed with the theme and emotions as there was nothing new and fresh and it was the same glorified versions of tyrannical husbands holding captive of women, women trying hard to struggle after having left India as immigrants, women confined to the kitchen trying to bail out Indian curries reminiscing their hay days when they would have delicious Indian cuisine at their hometown Calcutta. I badly need to read something different from authors like Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amulya Malladi and Jhumpa Lahiri. Am I asking for more?

Arranged Marriage is a collection of short stories written to speak the conditions of Indian women who have been married off in an arranged manner by their parents and who are trying really hard to adapt to the new family conditions or even immigrant experiences(Yes, a million times you see them reminiscing the curries and Bengalicuisine memories) and their whole life depends on tending to their husband’s and childrens’ needs. I believe these experiences of traditional tyrannical husbands and conventional suffering housewives may have happened around 50s and 60s and they don’t seem real at all. We have progressed and gone farther upto the Mars It is actually hard to digest the fact that the person who wrote The Palace Of Illusions has not tried to cover the nice things about arranged marriages like adapting to the other side of culture, the bonding between strangers who become partners. This book could have been much better had it not been for cliches in the stories.

I would like to highlight the fact that there are two-three stories with strong women characters but what happens to them later is left for the readers to imagine. I liked the two stories particularly-one of the woman whose husband runs a supermarket and the other is that of a girl wanting to adopt a son. They were different. Also there is a story here is ditto as the book by the same author Sisters Of My Heartand this part is exactly annoying that the story also ends on the same lines. For a new reader of Divakaruni’s may find it gripping and a page turner, but for me it was a very sore book. And for the same reason I may probably not pick up another book by her for the next one year atleast.

I will give it a generous two out of five stars for the writing. If you really want to read a book of this author, my hands up to The Palace Of Illusions. It is far far away from that gem

Source: loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/arranged-marriage-by-chitrabanerjee-divakaruni
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review 2014-09-30 12:36
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali

The authoress of the book Marjan Kamali was born to Iranian parents in Turkey. This is the first book I'm reading of an Iranian author and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every tiny bit of Iran mentioned in the book. Well, there are a lot of themes interwoven together. Through a mother-daughter relationship, the author tries to describe the history of Iran, the revolution, pre-revolution, post-revolution societal changes, freedom of women,  chasing your dreams and finding true happiness, and the dichotomy that lies in the character's hearts about where they truly belong to. There is a romantic subplot too but not very capturing.

Darya's is an immgrant who has shifted to United States during the Revolution with her husband Parviz in order to provide better lives to her three children-Hooman, Kavyon and Mina. Though she would want to go back to Iran any given time having struggled in US to adapt to its fast paced life, she knows the difficulties she would have to face there and also is quite skeptical to return. Her life comprises of her job, taking care of kids, her math club and finding the right husband for her daughter Mina for her twenty-fifth birthday. 

Mina is an MBA student whose true love lies in art. She is willing to take it up as a profesion but succumbing to parental pressure, she sticks to her MBA classes. In her mid-sem vacation she decides to make a trip to Iran to find the true Iran her mother boasts of. Her character is very endearing and through her trip with her mother, she realises and connects more with her mother. Her trip gets more cherishable with each passing moment as she learns to respect her Iranian roots and values, culture, tradition and history and when she meets her family after a gap of fifteen years after having fled to America when Iran was taken over by the revolutionists.

All is not the great in the book though. The romantic subplot of Mina with a stranger during her trip in Iran was unnecessary. Even the subplot of Darya's crush in one of the classes didn't add much to the plot. The description about places like Persepolis and other places at Iran could have been more elaborate. The section that talks of Revolution that took place in Iran and the society and rules that changed is my personal favorite.

I have read many books on immigrant experiences by various author who really struggle to keep your interest for long. But Marjan Kamali has done a great job with her debut book and  not one percent of the book feels like a sore moment. looking forward to read more by the author.

Rating:3/5(It is good and one-time read)

Source: loadstoread.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/together-tea-by-marjan-kamali
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