A scrutiny of self-identity involving immense fortitude and bravery.

LEAVING INDIA

MY FAMILY’S JOURNEY FROM FIVE VILLAGES TO FIVE CONTINENTS

San Francisco-born Indian journalist Hajratwala offers a spirited journey through the extended Indian diaspora over the last century.

The author’s family hails from the same western region of India, Gujarat, as Gandhi, and she writes that her maternal grandfather participated in the Mahatma’s legendary Salt March of 1930. Hajratwala traces the staggering expanse of Indian emigration across the globe. By her account, 11.5 million Indians are now living abroad, from Fiji to Middlesex County in New Jersey. Her family name, “hazrat-waalaa,” means one who prophesies, and her family’s caste, the Kshatriya, places them among the warrior-kings, somewhere below priests but above merchants and laborers. Centered around five villages near Navsari, her family cluster branched out once the region’s weaving industry was no longer sustainable. Her great-grandfather Motiram emigrated to the Fiji Islands in 1909 and set up one of the largest department stores in the South Pacific, becoming a catalyst for other family members to leave India. His brothers established themselves in Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa. At the time, Indians were welcomed as much-needed labor, before a racist backlash erupted and apartheid was established, along with quotas and restrictions—also reflected in America in the ’20s, as the author ably shows. Hajratwala’s father was sent from Fiji to study pharmacology in America, as part of the “brain drain” of Third World intellectuals emigrating to the United States in the ’60s in search of greater economic opportunities. From an arranged marriage within the same caste, he and the author’s mother, a physiotherapist, settled in suburban Michigan, where the author grew up. Her work is a richly—occasionally tediously—detailed, rare study of Indian diaspora, and a pleasing mixture of sociopolitical journalism and intricately layered memoir.

A scrutiny of self-identity involving immense fortitude and bravery.

Pub Date: March 18, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-25129-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more