"[An] intriguing debut novel...Agarwal seeks to give voice to the dispossessed through the supernatural."— USA Today
"[Shilpa] Agarwal's work will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri by virtue of its characters and setting, but it retains a fresh, original feel that will draw in new readers with its own literary merit. Recommended for all but the smallest fiction collections."— Library Journal
“In her stunning debut novel Shilpa Agarwal takes on the ghosts that bedevil young Pinky Mittal's extended family and dispatches them with rambunctious wit and affection. The result is like finely wrought mirror work, a glittering tapestry of vibrant contradictions, characters, and mysteries. Haunting Bombay flirts deliciously with the true spirit of India.”—Aimee Liu, author of Flash House
After her mother’s death crossing the border from Pakistan to India during Partition, baby Pinky was taken in by her grandmother, Maji, the matriarch of the powerful Mittal family. Now thirteen years old, Pinky lives with her grandmother and her uncle’s family in a bungalow on the Malabar Heights in Bombay. While she has never really been accepted by her uncle’s family, she has always had Maji’s love.
One day, as monsoons engulf the city, Pinky opens a mysteriously bolted door, unleashing the ghosts of an infant who drowned shortly before Pinky’s arrival and of the nursemaid who cared for the child. Three generations of the Mittal family must struggle to come to terms with their secrets amidst hidden shame, forbidden love, and a call for absolute sacrifice.
Shilpa Agarwal was born in Bombay and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Duke University and UCLA and has taught at both UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. As an unpublished novel, Haunting Bombay won a 2003 First Words Literary Prize for South Asian Writers. It is her first novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: Haunting Bombay|
|Release Date: 04-01-2009|
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|Publisher: Soho Press|
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|Parent title||Haunting Bombay|
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Chapter OneTHE BRINK: 1947
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Can the subaltern speak? -GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK
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Might they not be the cracks and chinks through which another voice, other voices, speak in our lives? By what right do we close our ears to them? -J. M. COETZEE, FOE
THE SEA INSIDE
* * *
The girl moved like water itself, unthinkingly toward the darkening horizon. She was only sixteen, or maybe seventeen. A brilliant red sari clung to her body. Tangled hair lashed at her face.
Now, as the thickening dusk closed in upon her, the girl stood on the outskirts of the village, little more than a cluster of thatched huts huddled at the water's edge. A solitary coconut tree rose to the sky, straining against the heavy winds. Somewhere a dog barked incessantly. She took a step back, waiting for the moon to slip behind scattered clouds. The mirrorwork on her sari cast pale, misshapen circles of light upon the ground. She tried to touch them with her left foot, the dancing lights illuminating her toes, the middle one adorned with a silver ring, the stub of a sixth gracelessly curled under. She pressed onward, fighting a feeling that she was being repelled by some invisible energy, a collective fear.
Her destination was not the village...