Synopses & Reviews
Imelda Connor is a classic Irish lass—a fiery, red-headed beauty, quick to anger, and fiercely protective of her younger siblings. Growing up on a small farm in the rolling hills of County Cork, she thinks she has her life completely mapped out. Here in Ireland she will live an enchanted life with the perfect Irish husband, devoting herself to her family and to her livestock.
But Imelda soon finds that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Everything is turned upside-down when Imelda moves to England and happens to meet a dashing, rakish Bengali man named Shu Bose. Shu, whose knowledge of Ireland stops at James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, is captivated by Imelda’s natural beauty and vivacious charm, and the two quickly embark on a whirlwind romance. At the tender age of eighteen, in the spring of 1932, Imelda boards a ship bound for Calcutta—and a very different life to the one she had always imagined.
From Cork to Calcutta by Milty Bose transports readers back to pre-Independence India, to London between the wars, and to the genteel life of bhadralok Bengali high society. It’s the intimate and true story of Bose’s parents and their unconventional love-story that crosses class, nationality, and cultural boundaries.
"Hajratwala, a journalist at the San Jose Mercury News, tells of the Indian diaspora experience through a part-personal, part-reported story of her extended family. Hailing from the small northwest Indian region of Gujarat, her family's ancient origins begin with the myth of a race of warriors and kings. Their migration begins in the wake of the famine of 1899, when Hajratwala's great-grandfather Motiram left to learn the tailor's craft in Fiji, leaving his wife and children behind. In the same, tireless spirit echoed in generations to come, Motiram founded a family business in his new home, then built it with the support of relatives who followed to join him. His shop eventually became one of the largest department stores in the South Pacific isles. Other family branches developed in South Africa; the U.S., where Hajratwala's parents immigrated as part of India's earliest wave of 'brain drain'; and other locales, totaling nine countries in five continents. Throughout sojourns across cultures and across time, the family endures and succeeds in spite of discrimination and bigotry. Told with the probing detail of a reporter, the fluid voice of a poet and the inspired vision of a young woman who walks in many worlds, Hajratwala's story offers an engaging account of what may be one of the fastest-growing diasporas in the world." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In LEAVING INDIA, Minal Hajratwala deftly explores [the India] diaspora... LEAVING INDIA is meticulously researched and evocatively written."--Washington Post
"LEAVING INDIA is a rich, entertaining and illuminating story." --San Francisco Chronicle"I love Minal Hajratwala's book LEAVING INDIA. It is what I imagine India itself to be like: incomparable, sprawling, rich, surprising, very old and wise and forever capable of re-creating itself, no matter where pieces of it lands. Minal Hajratwala is a fine daughter of the continent, bringing insight, intelligence and compassion to the lives and sojourns of her far-flung kin. For those of us who have needed to understand the presence of so many Indians in our various lands, this book is a wonderful primer." Alice Walker
"Minal Hajratwala's LEAVING INDIA is a fascinating history that kept me up late into the night--and I suspect it will do the same for most readers. Filled with amazing and compelling family stories, it will strike a chord in anyone whose people have come from elsewhere--and today, in America, that's most of us! I am filled with admiration at Minal's honesty and the careful beauty of her language. I learned so much, through the story of this one family, about the tragedies and triumphs of the Indian diaspora."--Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of The Palace of Illusions
An inspiring personal saga that explores the collisions of choice and history that led one unforgettable family to become immigrants In this groundbreaking work,Minal Hajratwala mixes history,memoir, and reportage to explore the questions facing not only her own Indian family but that of every immigrant:Where did we come from?Why did we leave?
What did we give up and gain in the process?
Beginning with her great-grandfather Motirams original flight from British-occupied India to Fiji, where he rose from tailor to department store mogul,Hajratwala follows her ancestors across the twentieth century to explain how they came to be spread across five continents and nine countries.
As she delves into the relationship between personal choice and the great historical forcesBritish colonialism, apartheid,Gandhis Salt March, and American immigration policythat helped to shape her familys experiences, Hajratwala brings to light for the very first time the story of the Indian diaspora.
This luminous narrative by a child of immigrants offers a deeply intimate look at what it means to call more than one part of the world home. Leaving India should find its place alongside Michael Ondaatjes Running in the Family and Daniel Mendelsohns The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million.
In this groundbreaking work, Hajratwala mixes history, memoir, and reportage to explore the questions facing not only her own Indian family but that of every immigrant: Where did we come from? Why did we leave? and What did we give up and gain in the process?
About the Author
MINAL HAJRATWALA was born in San Francisco and raised in New Zealand and suburban Michigan. In the course of researching Leaving India, she spent seven years traveling the world and interviewed over seventy-five members of her extended family. A poet and performer, she worked as an editor and reporter for eight years at the San Jose Mercury News. She has been a leader in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Asian American Journalists Association.