A slow-moving but worthwhile exploration of common marriage in Rakcham, India.

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MURMUR OF THE LONELY BROOK

In Dey’s debut novel, an Indian woman, newly wed, learns that she will be shared in marriage with her husband’s brother.

In Rakcham, near the Tibetan border, 22-year-old Pravin lives with his wife, Nisha; his younger brother, Diwakar; their father, Shevak; their mother, Parvati; and his kid sister, Ria. Pravin’s thoughts are primarily of Nisha, whom he loves. A beauty, Nisha is from Ribba and studied literature at college, where she met Pravin. Nisha is in love with Pravin and fantasizes about their future together, even though her lot will be farming, cooking, bearing children and ensuring the happiness of others. To support the family, Pravin, an electrician, works in the city, which limits the time he spends at home. In his absence, Diwakar and Nisha grow closer, though she thinks of him as a brother. A few weeks later, home on a brief work leave, Pravin proposes a common marriage—he and Diwakar will share Nisha as their wife. The plan makes sense economically and culturally for the family unit, but it troubles Nisha, who has no choice or say in the matter. Author Dey calls attention to the primitive tradition of common marriage, still practiced in some remote communities in India. Although the brothers share one wife, as characters, they are diverse. Pravin is traditional, pragmatic, quick to anger and capable of managing city life, while Diwakar is loyal, affectionate and dreamily sensitive, not just with Nisha, but in his appreciation of the pastoral life in the Himalayan foothills. Although well told, the narrative’s pacing sometimes lags, and the book’s raison d’être—the common marriage—is not openly discussed until the final third. One interesting, ironic twist about women’s sexuality in the novel: Although one female character suffers in an arranged marriage and satisfies her husband’s libido, it’s nonetheless acceptable for her to seek sexual satisfaction from her husband’s live-in friend—with no knowledge or consent of her husband. A subplot involving kid sister Ria, aggressively infatuated with boyfriend Jeet, offers hope that her future will be more expansive, loosening the traditional boundaries of outmoded practices. Since Nisha is powerless to reject or affect Pravin’s decision to share her with his brother, her options are few. The outcome is hardly a surprise and, if anything, seems to support tradition. Still, the tale is quietly strong in its portrayal of an Indian family and their lives of ritual, devotion and sacrifice.

A slow-moving but worthwhile exploration of common marriage in Rakcham, India.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0988170001

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Salfas

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2012

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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