Good Indian Girls: Stories

Good Indian Girls: Stories

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by Ranbir Singh Sidhu
     
 

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In twelve startling and vividly imagined stories, Ranbir Singh Sidhu overturns the lives of ordinary Indians living in America to bring us a bold debut collection, Good Indian Girls.

A woman attends a de-cluttering class in search of love. A low-level, drunkard diplomat finds himself mysteriously transferred to the Consulate in San Francisco, where

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Overview


In twelve startling and vividly imagined stories, Ranbir Singh Sidhu overturns the lives of ordinary Indians living in America to bring us a bold debut collection, Good Indian Girls.

A woman attends a de-cluttering class in search of love. A low-level, drunkard diplomat finds himself mysteriously transferred to the Consulate in San Francisco, where everyone believes he is a great, lost poet. An anthropological expedition searching for early human fossils goes disastrously wrong and the leader turns to searching for the very first sounds made by humans. The wife of a retiring Consul pays tribute to her pet python by preparing to serve him to her dinner guests. A strange skull discovered outside an orphanage results in the creation of a cult around one of the charismatic young residents.

Unsettling, moving, insightful, humorous — these beautifully written stories travel between despair and redemption as they illuminate the lives of often deeply flawed characters, and mark the emergence of a major new voice in American fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/15/2013
When Lovedeep signs up for a New Age “de-cluttering” class, she finally finds the change she’s been hoping for in Ian, the shy man she meets there, in this collection’s title story. Sidhu’s debut offers 12 varied snapshots of the lives of Indians at home and abroad. “Hero of the Nation” features a student at a special needs school, Ruby, who sneaks her mute grandfather cigarettes while he torments the rest of her family with his incontinence. “The Good Poet of Africa” involves a low-level diplomat who, soon after arriving at a new post in San Francisco, discovers that everyone there thinks he’s a famous Urdu poet. In “The Consul’s Wife,” Pavarti considers her life married to a diplomat and grieves her pet snake’s death while deciding what to serve at a dinner party, and in “Children’s Games,” an Indian orphanage falls under the sway of a cult. Though weird and eccentric, Sidhu’s stories are also empathetic and refreshingly free of the clichés of immigrant narratives. He manages to portray his characters as uniquely Indian without losing sight of their individuality, offering small, piercing looks into the humanity that resides in every situation and person, no matter how strange. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"Achingly merciless, London-born author Sidhu's 12 short stories sharply delineate the edges of identity and sanity…These haunting tales simultaneously attract and repel, enchant and shatter…Sidhu creates inscrutable characters inhabiting bewildering circumstances. Smart, provocative and poignantly disturbing, this collection, the author's U.S. debut, signals a writer to watch." —Kirkus (Starred Review)

"Though weird and eccentric, Sidhu’s stories are also empathetic and refreshingly free of the clichés of immigrant narratives. He manages to portray his characters as uniquely Indian without losing sight of their individuality, offering small, piercing looks into the humanity that resides in every situation and person, no matter how strange."—Publishers Weekly

"With adeptly drawn characters, Sidhu demonstrates a dexterous grasp of the human psyche, while the prevalence of dark twists displays his love of the fatalistic. This propensity for the morose will be off-putting for some but is sure to please those with a taste for black humor and shades of the diabolical."—Booklist

"Among these stories of dislocation and fragments of lives when time seems out of joint, The Discovery could have you thinking of Toba Tek Singh—Manto’s heartbreak about the madness of Partition, for it’s about a man who can’t make sense of the world as it splinters into ‘notcountries’ and ‘notwords’. Border Song, among the lightest pieces in this collection, finds transformative grace in grief and a closure of sorts that eludes characters in The Order of Things, a masterpiece of a story that could have you marvelling at Sidhu’s incisive and distinctive perspective for the Punjab experience of violence, exile and estrangement—both within India and abroad."—Shalini Mukerji, Outlook India

“Whenever I pick up a story by Ranbir Sidhu, I feel as though I’ve been released from the cedarwood closet of literature into the fresh air of active creation; as though I’d been fitted with brand-new high-tech earphones picking up an infinity of eloquent microphones cleverly scattered around the world. The pops and squeaks of new life crackle in my ears, and even when they’re threatening or saddening, I’m inevitably overcome by the hope that they’ll never stop.”—Harry Mathews, author of My Life in CIA, Cigarettes and The Journalist

“Ranbir Sidhu is imaginative, with a dry, sly wit, very intelligent, and owns a wicked sensibility, all of which makes his fiction smart, daring, sensitive to human perversity, and keen in its observations. He is one of the most compelling and sophisticated younger writers today; and his writing is beautiful and entertaining.”—Lynne Tillman, author of American Genius A Comedy, and No Lease On Life

“The first-person narrator of ‘The Good Poet of Africa’ despises poetry, repays compassion with insult, and enjoys lying to children. but, by story’s end, the moral universe will be turned on its head, and the reader will empathize with Ranbir Sidhu’s loathsome protagonist. This is writing of uncommon assurance and skill.”—Jeet Thayil, author of Narcopolis

“It is with pleasure that I look forward to seeing Ranbir’s debut published and having a chance to read it properly. I first met him in 2007, when he was awarded a fellowship at the William Flanagan Creative Persons Center in Montauk, NY, of which I am Director. While there he displayed great talent and dedication and since, I have watched as he has taken the time to seriously develop his craft.”—Edward Albee, author of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story, and The Goat; three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and four-time Tony Award winner

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
Achingly merciless, London-born author Sidhu's 12 short stories sharply delineate the edges of identity and sanity. Playwright, novelist and Pushcart Prize winner Sidhu populates his collection with Indian diaspora. These haunting tales simultaneously attract and repel, enchant and shatter, evoking the ambiguous relationships between past and present, others and self. An airplane crash prompts a gas station employee to descend deeper and deeper into a madness in which everything, beginning with India itself, drops out of existence. Hoping to gain self-confidence and perhaps love, a young woman joins a decluttering class and finds herself drawn to a serial killer. A diplomat's wife has spent so many years adapting to new cultures that she is dismayed to learn of her husband's plan to retire. With the discovery of her pet python's death, her confusion--what could India possibly mean to her now, after so many years and so many personas?--merges with an erotically tinged grief. Mysteriously promoted from a bottom-rung post in Africa to a cushy job in San Francisco, an alcoholic Indian diplomat tries to figure out why everyone believes he is an Urdu poet. Complicating matters are his emotionless lover and her father, who wields a strange power over her. A man's addiction to classic novels impels him to hire a professional reader, which ruins his marriage. The discovery of a skull at an orphanage catalyzes a cult, a cult that replicates the hierarchy and complicity of colonization. Each ending seems unfinished, leaving each heart cracked open, perhaps to endure more pain or perhaps to remain simply unfulfilled. Deftly sifting through a range of less-often-visited emotions, Sidhu creates inscrutable characters inhabiting bewildering circumstances. Smart, provocative and poignantly disturbing, this collection, the author's U.S. debut, signals a writer to watch.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593765316
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
10/15/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,443,902
Product dimensions:
5.57(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author


Ranbir Singh Sidhu was born in London and grew up in California. He is a winner of the Pushcart Prize in Fiction. a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and other awards. Trained as an archaeologist, he has lived and traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

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Good Indian Girls: Stories 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best short story collections I've read in years