In a prelude to her problematic novel, David describes how important the prophet Elijah was for the Bene Israel Jews of India, and introduces Elijah as the novel's fun-loving protagonist. Unfortunately, both Elijah and the merriment disappear after the first chapter. After rioting in Ahmedabad in 2002, a small community of Jews whose ancestors had lived peacefully in India move into an apartment building to avoid the crossfire. Despite the intriguing setting and character sketches rich with possibility, the result is unpolished and unsatisfying. Vignettes are shaped around weighty themes of religion, love, infertility, death and prophesy, but the actors never become more than puppets manipulated with an obvious hand, undermining the sometimes powerful imagery and infrequently addressed topics-such as living as a secret Jew in Pakistan. David, who grew up in Ahmedabad and has written previously about the Bene Israeli, knows her subject well, but has not done it justice. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Shalom India Housing Societyby Esther David
After religious riots break out in modern Ahmedabad, a handful of the tribe’s descendants band together to live in a communal housing complex: the Shalom India Housing
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Over two thousand years ago, remnants of one of the lost tribes of Israel appeared on the shores of India. They became known in India as the Bene Israel. Nothing has been the same since.
After religious riots break out in modern Ahmedabad, a handful of the tribe’s descendants band together to live in a communal housing complex: the Shalom India Housing Society. Nestled amidst their Hindu and Muslim neighbors, the residents of these charming apartments find ways to laugh (the laughing club meets every morning on the lawn) and love, whether it is a crush next door or an Internet date with a distant Israeli.
Writing with wit and an artist’s eye for detail, Esther David vividly portrays a resilient group who share a fondness for the liquor-loving Prophet Elijah and costume parties. These true-to-life stories depict the joys and conflicts of a people continually choosing between the Indian traditions of their homeland and their Jewish heritage.
"[T]he nuanced portrayal of this diminishing community as a whole is quietly affecting." Booklist
"Hilarious and heartwarming." Asian Age
"Social anthropology, with a good deal of heart thrown in." Sunday Business Standard, India
"Though humorously tailored, Esther David has portrayed the fears and issues faced by the members of this small community to keep their identity, culture, and beliefs sacrosanct in India, a land of many gods. . . . Though the characters in this book are Jews settled in India, the insecurities the book vocalizes are the feelings and frustrations of the members of a minority community everywhere in this world." Feminist Review
"A delight to read, and an education as well, Esther David's new book is like being dropped down into the midst of an extended family's reunion. You might not know everybody when you first get there, but it's only a matter of time before you feel right at home." Blogcritics.org
"Esther David perfectly portrays the individuals of the Bene Israel Jewish community in Ahmedabad, many of them torn between Israel's siren song and their own unique Indo-Jewish heritage. Hers is a window into an all too human world, presided over by a comic though attentive Prophet Elijah." Janet M. Powers, author of Kites Over the Mango Tree
Meet the Author
Esther David is the author of multiple books, including The Walled City, Book of Rachel, and Shalom India Housing Society.
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