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INDEPENDENCE by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-06-314238-1
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

The members of a Hindu family torn apart during the chaos of Partition in India try to rebuild their lives and community in this deeply felt novel.

Nabakumar, a Bengali village doctor, and Bina, his quiltmaker wife, are looking forward to India’s independence from British rule and the possibilities they hope it will bring for their three daughters: Deepa, Jamini, and Priya, whether in terms of marriages or educational pursuits. Instead, despite his optimism for the future, Nabakumar is killed during a riot that follows a Muslim political party meeting outside of his medical clinic in Calcutta, a loss which upends the family and renders them even more dependent on their neighbors. In the aftermath, mother and daughters struggle to earn money and to ensure their own safety. Deepa must hide her relationship with a Muslim man and is disowned by her mother when it is discovered. Their secret cross-religion marriage becomes even more dangerous as her husband becomes politically powerful in the Muslim League, and the two must relocate to the newly created Pakistan. Priya is at a loss for how to follow in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor, especially after she is denied entry to a local college due to ongoing discrimination against women. When she is accepted into medical school in the United States after an offer to finance her education, the decision of whether to pursue her dreams strains her relationship with Amit, a longtime family friend and her fiance, whom Jamini is also in love with. As the threats mount, the sisters are forced to rely on each other once again in a culminating rush of events. The author’s latest novel is an engaging family saga that explores resilience against a backdrop of violent national upheaval. The story is well paced as it follows its cast of characters through a chaotic world while still capturing the rich interiority of each of the three daughters.

A moving depiction of family life following great loss.