Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1966 by award-winning Marathi writer Anuradha Vaidya, A Ragdoll for My Heart
is a unique free verse novella now making its English debut [?]. The lyrical work, translated by Shruti Nargundkar, tells an age-old story: that of a woman’s longing for a daughter and the relationship they subsequently come to share. The story traces a mother-daughter relationship that begins first with unquestioning love and over time transforms into one of distance and tension.
Setting out life as a game with predetermined moves and rules that are meant to be twisted or negotiated, Vaidya deftly engages readers in a playful connecting of the dots, drawing us deeper and deeper into the lives of the characters. She employs beautiful allegorical imagery on each page of the poetic narrative and makes many allusions to life as a game played on the board of the globe—complete with her characters who act as pawns in the sprawling world of the narrative.
"The immigrant experience has been documented in American literature since those first hardy souls landed at Plymouth, and as the immigrants keep coming, so too do their stories. Sharma (An Obedient Father), who acknowledges the autobiographical elements in his new novel, tells a simple but layered tale of assimilation and adaptation. The Mishras come to America in the late-1970s, the father first, in the wake of new U.S. immigration laws and the Indian Emergency, when the narrator, Ajay, is eight, and his brother Birju is 12. There are lovely scenes of their life in Delhi before they leave, the mother making wicks from the cotton in pill bottles, the parade of neighbors when their plane tickets to America arrive. Sharma captures the experience for Ajay of being transported to a different country: the thrill of limitless hot water flowing from a tap; the trauma of bullies at school; the magic of snow falling; watching Birju, the favored son, studying hours each day and spending entire weekends preparing for the entrance exam at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Then a terrible tragedy irreparably alters the family and their fortunes. Sharma skillfully uses this as another window into the Indian way of accepting and dealing with life. A loving portrait, both painful and honest." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Outstanding...Every page is alive and surprising, proof of [Sharma's] huge, unique talent."--David Sedaris
Hailed as a "supreme storyteller" () for his "cunning, dismaying and beautifully conceived" fiction (), Akhil Sharma is possessed of a narrative voice "as hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoyevsky" (). In his highly anticipated second novel, , he delivers a story of astonishing intensity and emotional precision.
America to the newly immigrated Mishras is everything they could have imagined and more. When automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important. Then tragedy strikes. One of the family’s two sons suffers an accident in a swimming pool. Ajay, the family’s younger son, prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family’s new life. Heart-wrenching and darkly funny, Family Life is a universal story of a boy torn between duty and his own survival.
Named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the and "Gorgeously tender at its core...beautiful, heartstopping... really blazes." --Sonali Deraniyagala,
About the Author
Akhil Sharma is the author of An Obedient Father, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. A native of Delhi, he lives in New York City and is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark.