BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo [in Booklist]

Eight distantly connected stories, mostly centering isolated women, comprise Sindya Bhanoo’s exquisite debut. In the opening O. Henry Prize-winner, “Malliga Homes 3,” a recent widow in Chennai is relocated to a retirement home by her rarely visiting Georgia-based daughter. “Nature Exchange” focuses on the Chennai widow’s adult granddaughter, Veena, struggling with her young son’s sudden death, the single fatality in a school shooting. Veena’s father, the Chennai widow’s son-in-law, appears briefly in “A Life in America” as the former mentee of a Washington State professor charged with coercively using his students as personal “slaves.”

Pullman, Washington, is also the location of “Buddymoon,” about an estranged mother who returns for her older daughter’s wedding. Pittsburgh provides the setting for “His Holiness,” in which a high-school senior struggles to understand her father, who has abandoned his family and reinvented himself as a traveling self-help guru, and “Three Trips,” which recounts the titular three (life-changing) trips taken by an Indian American and her fractured family. “Amma” and “No. 16 Model House” are paired through childhood friends; the former is about the proverbial new girl in school, who matures into a meteoric actor-to-politician career, and the latter features “the sweet twin” and her more ordinary decades.

Bhanoo’s piercing stories further augment the growing shelves of spectacular first short story collections by women of color.

Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, January 1&15, 2022

Readers: Adult

Published: 2022


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