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Thursday, August 15, 2013

India Independence Day

On this day in 1947, the British left, and India was an independent nation. To celebrate, here are some books that take place in India!

    

A Beautiful Lie by Ifran Master. Bilal's father is dying, and he knows that the thought of India dividing into two countries would break his father's heart and hasten his death. So, Bilal hides the truth, with help from his friends, so his father will die in peace.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman. Set during WWII and the independence movement, Vidya's father is beaten by the British during an independence rally, he lives, but his brain is damaged. The family is forced to move in with their conservative grandfather. There, Vidya's aunts make life even harder for Vidya and her mother. Vidya's only solace is the library, which is located upstairs in the male part of the house, and therefore forbidden to her.

Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh. In a small village on the India/Pakistan border, a Sikh boy falls in love with a Muslim girl. The town runs by the trains that come through, but during Partition, the trains stop bringing goods. The trains are full of refugees fleeing from India to Pakistan, or Pakistan to India, but they've all been murdered, and now the trains just bring dead bodies.

    

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth. Leela was engaged at the age of two and married at the age of nine. At 13, she would move into her husband's house, but when he's suddenly killed, Leela is forced to shave her hair, smash her bangles, and wear muddy brown saris, never able to remarry. She must stay inside for a full year, but India is changing, and so is Leela.

Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. When her father goes to the US to find work, Asha and her family move from Delhi to their grandparent's house in Kolkota. In addition to leaving her home and friends, her grandparent's house is more conservative, and Asha misses her freedom. Her only release is escaping to the roof and writing in her journal.

Karma by Cathy Ostlere. In 1984, Maya's Hindu mother commits suicide. Her Sikh father takes Maya and her mother's ashes from their Canadian home to India. Shortly after they arrive, Indira Ghandi is gunned down by her Sikh body guards. The country erupts into Hindu/Sikh violence. Maya is separated from her father and has to depend on the kindness of strangers to survive.

    

Kim by Rudyard Kipling. Kim is a young boy born and raised in India, but of Irish descent. He's torn between the Indian life he knows and the British imperialism he aspires to.

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson. This is a retelling of the Perrault fairy tale, set in pre-colonial India, where the diamonds come with many problems and the toads are a blessing in disguise.

Anila's Journey by Anila's Irish father is long-missing and her Indian mother has just died. In the 1700s she strikes out on her own, finding a job as a painter to a gentleman scientist.

What are your favorite books set in India?

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