Miss New India

Anjali Bose is “Miss New India.” Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family and living in a backwater town with an arranged marriage on the horizon, Anjali’s prospects don’t look great. But her ambition and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her expat teacher, Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny.

So she sets off to Bangalore, India’s fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Seinfeldin order to get jobs as call-center service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents. And it is in this high-tech city where Anjali—suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender, and more—is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side . . .

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July 1, 2011, New York Times, by Akash Kapur
A Parable of the New India
...Nations are narratives. Every country is shaped by its particular set of ideas and myths. Inevitably these are simplifications, often clichés, but they hold a country together, imposing a certain coherence on diverse populations.

The narrative of modern India has changed over the last few decades. For much of its post-independence history, India epitomized the concept of the Third World. It was a land of desolate poverty and immutable hierarchy — “an area of darkness,” in the memorable title of V. S. Naipaul’s first book about the country; a place of “heat and dust,” in the only slightly less dismal title of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s 1975 novel. But now India is moving on, and so is the Indian narrative. The country has grown rapidly since the early 1990s, when its stultified socialist economy began to be reformed. Today, as India has become an increasingly confident world power, the old stories are being replaced by new ones — many equally clichéd — about boundless opportunity, tremendous wealth, social mobility and technological prowess...Read More

May 22, 2011, SF Gate, by Sandip Roy
Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee
...Novelists are lucky. While a recent spate of "new India" nonfiction from the likes of Anand Giridharadas and Patrick French have come under attack for what they wrote and what they omitted, Bharati Mukherjee can say her "Miss New India" is just the story of one woman. Her character, Anjali Bose, is part of the change bubbling across India. And the novel does not claim to be the definitive story of that change.

Anjali comes from a small town in Bihar, a backwater of overbearing fathers and dastardly suitors, a place that dreamy-eyed hopefuls abandon for Bollywood's tinsel shores. But Anjali's expat teacher, Peter Champion, tells her that "Bombay is yesterday. It's a hustler's city. Bangalore's the place for a young woman like you."...Read More

May 21, 2011, USA Today, by Carol Memmot
'Miss New India' blends old and new lifestyles
...Anjali Bose is the teenager whose heart and hopes are much bigger than the traditional expectations of her parents. She's reluctant to embrace the mind-numbing future she fears she'll face if she agrees to an arranged marriage, but she allows her parents to search for a prospective husband anyway. After dozens of young men are rejected, her parents choose a future husband but with disastrous results.

With financial and emotional support from the American ex-pat who has taught her to speak English, Anjali flees to metropolitan Bangalore before the marriage takes place. Like young women in every age and culture, she hopes to find happiness, romance and a career.

Bangalore is exciting and frightening to Anjali, but she's soon enamored with the 21st century lifestyle. Like the thousands of other young people who flock to this modern city, she longs for a job as a call center service agent where she can make money to support herself and fulfill her dreams... Read More

May 18, 2011, Barnes & Noble, by Steven G. Kellman
Miss New India
Bumpkin braves the Big City is a favorite theme in Western culture. In Balzac's Le Père Goriot Eugène de Rastignac, a hungry young provincial, surveys Paris from atop a hill and vows to conquer the French capital. "À nous deux, maintenant!" he proclaims. It's the two of us now! Fleeing his native Sicily, Vito Corleone goes from peasant to Godfather, boss of New York. In the 21st century, Paris and New York remain magnets for reinvention, but some of their ambition has been outsourced to the peripheries of empire.

In Miss New India, Bharati Mukherjee examines Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India and its fastest growing metropolis, as a high-tech site of social striving. An architectural consultant who has created a thriving international business based in Bangalore calls it "the most advanced city on the planet." His belief that "making it here meant making it anywhere in the world" echoes a claim made in the Kander & Ebb anthem for big-city strivers "New York, New York," the final chorus of which announces: "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." In Mukherjee's broad send-up, upward mobility in her native India is second-degree arrivism. Because Bangalore's economy is dependent on call centers, the city's diurnal rhythms are governed by clocks in the United States. Its newcomers dine in Pizza Hut, schmooze in Starbucks, and covet American accents. They are ersatz Yankee opportunists..." Read More

Miss New India Links
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Site

1 comment:

  1. Again a new sensation and an sharp arrow from the pen of Bharati Mukherjee-"Anjali Bose", inspiring the world.

    .....Best Wishes