Synopses & Reviews
From an award-winning novelist, a stunning portrait of late Raj India—a sweeping saga and a love story set against a background of huge political and cultural upheaval.
Sujata Massey’s ten novels, about a young Asian-American woman in Japan, have won numerous literary awards. Now she tells a whole new story, set on a brand-new stage.
The term “sleeping dictionary” was coined for young Indian women who slept with British men and educated them in the ways of India. Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, The Sleeping Dictionary is the story of Kamala, born to a peasant family in West Bengal, who makes her way to Calcutta of the 1930s. Haunted by a forbidden love, she is caught between the raging independence movement and the British colonial society she finds herself inhabiting. This portrait of late Raj India is both a saga and a passionate love story.
Praise for Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mystery series:
"The upbeat narrative and resourceful heroine make for an appealing read." --Kirkus Reviews
An appealing protagonist and memorable supporting characters blend smoothly with lessons in Hawaiian and Japanese history in a tale sure to win new readers for the series." --Publishers Weekly
"The writing is as serene and graceful as the flower arranging...The whodunit intrigue combined with the little tidbits of everyday Japanese life result in a rich, robust read." --Library Journal
"Massey is a gifted storyteller who delivers strong characters, a tight plot and an inside view of Japan and its culture." --USA Today
"With her wry humor and her multicultural background, Rei is one of the most complex female protagonists around...[Massey] has honed the skill of captivating and educating her readers at the same time." --Booklist
"A love story richly woven with India's history and struggle for independence, The Sleeping Dictionary took me on captivating journey through one woman's devastation, resilience, truth and triumph."
"The Sleeping Dictionary is the book that Sujata Massey was meant to write -- an ambitious story of suspense and love and identity, rendered in lush, captivating language. To read it is to step into a fast-moving time machine that delivers us to places and events that will be new to many readers. An exciting, bold work."
"Sujata Massey has created a marvelous multi-named, warm-blooded heroine who is strong willed and loving; smart and cunning; charming and intelligent; naive yet worldy. Sujata masterfully weaves her heroine's life with India's struggle and fight for freedom and gives us an elegant piece of Indian history wrapped beautifully in Pom's story."
"The SleepingDictionary is the book that Sujata Massey was meant to write -- an ambitiousstory of suspense and love and identity, rendered in lush, captivatinglanguage. To read it is to step into a fast-moving time machine that deliversus to places and events that will be new to many readers. An exciting,bold work."
"The Sleeping Dictionary, an utterly engrossing tale of love, espionage, betrayal, and survival, is historical fiction at its best, accessible to all audiences."
“Trapped by her past and uncertain of her future, the peasant girl Kamala’s journey toward independence—personal and political—unfolds in this riveting historical novel.The award-winning author of the Rei Shimura mysteries turns to 1930s–40s India,with the British in control of the colony as Gandhi and others fight for freedom. The setting gives new life to the familiar story of an orphan girl struggling to make her way in a cruel world. Clever Kamala is front and center throughout, as Massey builds her coming-of-age tale around India as it moves toward independence, effectively combining personal narrative with the grandeur of a sweeping historical epic. The characters are easily categorized, but deft storytelling prevents them from being predictable. The book is also notable for its detail-driven depiction of the limitations imposed by caste and colonization. The Sleeping Dictionary, an utterly engrossing tale of love, espionage, betrayal, and survival, is historical fiction at its best,accessible to all audiences."
“The broad scope in years and decades, history and politics of Massey’s saga will remind readers of Mitchner, Uris, and Clavell. Readers may think of a sleeping dictionary as a mistress who teaches her master the customs and language of the country, but such is not the case with Massey’s heroine, who eloquently, slowly, and sometimes painstakingly relates her journey from child to revolutionary and lover. There is sadness, tragedy, joy, love and triumph—everything saga readers enjoy.”
YOU ASK FOR MY NAME, THE REAL ONE, AND I CANNOT TELL. IT IS NOT FOR LACK OF EFFORT.
In 1930, a great ocean wave blots out a Bengali village, leaving only one survivor, a young girl. As a maidservant in a British boarding school, Pom is renamed Sarah and discovers her gift for languages. Her private dreams almost die when she arrives in Kharagpur and is recruited into a secretive, decadent world. Eventually, she lands in Calcutta, renames herself Kamala, and creates a new life rich in books and friends. But although success and even love seem within reach, she remains trapped by what she is . . . and is not. As India struggles to throw off imperial rule, Kamala uses her hard-won skills—for secrecy, languages, and reading the unspoken gestures of those around her—to fight for her country’s freedom and her own happiness.
About the Author
is an Edgar and Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee and winner of the Agatha and the Macavity Award for her ten Rei Shimura mystery novels set in Japan. Born in England to an Indian father and a German mother, Sujata Massey grew up mostly in the United States and earned her BA from the Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars program. She then worked as a reporter at The Baltimore Sun
before marrying and moving to Japan. She now lives in Baltimore with her husband and children.