Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Author Guest Post - Shilpa Agarwal

Readers, please join me welcoming Author Shilpa Agarwal who will be guest blogging here today!

Haunting Bombay
Shilpa Agarwal
April 6, 2009; $24.00; 978-1-56947-558-4; Soho Press
About the Book

Haunting Bombay is the story of Pinky Mittal, a girl raised by her devoted grandmother and extended family within a bungalow in Malabar Hill, Bombay’s old colonial enclave one of its most exclusive neighborhoods. One stifling summer night, Pinky unbolts a forbidden door, accidentally unleashing the ghost of a child who had drowned there years earlier.

As the monsoons erupt and the ghost plunges the bungalow into chaos, Pinky must find the courage to uncover the mysterious truth of the drowning. A richly evocative tale that unfurls from the luxurious heights of Malabar Hill to the squalid depths of the city’s underworld, Haunting Bombay illuminates a nation’s darkest fears and desires, and underscores the singular power of utterance.

About the Author

Shilpa Agarwal is a Los Angeles-based writer. Her writing is informed by glimpses into moments of alienation and awakening, especially during geographic and metaphoric crossings: east meets west, centers meet the peripheries, the living meet the dead. She writes to call up the haunting utterances of the excluded, to excavate fragmentary memories that edge consciousness, and to imagine a more nuanced narrative of history itself.

Shilpa's first novel, HAUNTING BOMBAY, is a winner of the 2003 First Words Literary Prize for South Asian writers.

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Haunting Bombay
Weaving the Past With a Thread of Hope

By Shilpa Agarwal

I have always been intrigued by stories that have been passed down through generations. I was born in Mumbai to a family uprooted by India’s Independence in 1947 and the subsequent Partition of the country into what is now India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. My grandparents and great-grandparents experienced the loss of their ancestral homes and saw with their own eyes the tragic violence of that turbulent time in history.

Bits of their stories were passed down to me when I was a child, mainly facts – how they got out of Pakistan and where they ended up once they crossed the border into India. But I always wanted more. I wanted to know how they felt, what they saw, what they left unspoken in the darker recesses of their hearts all these years. When I was an adult, my family began to answer some of these questions, revisiting some of the most painful times in their lives.

Their stories began to grow flesh. I heard about how my grandmother almost drowned while bathing in a lake, how an uncle was trying to get out of Pakistan in a train attacked by a mob and survived, how they slept in tents, how they finally crossed into India on foot. How they were connected to the future by a thin-ke-sahara – a thread of hope.

That very same thread is woven into the narrative of HAUNTING BOMBAY, a search for truth and belonging in a world that has broken open and become utterly terrifying. In Haunting Bombay, the supernatural represents those who have been silenced, their voices heard through the chaos of loss, betrayal, deceit – at last, at last whispering their version of truth.

Thank you for that enlightening post, dear Author! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.


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