The Private Life of Mrs Sharmaby Ratika Kapur
Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife, mother, and daughter-in-law holding the fort in a modest rental in Delhi while her husband tries to rack up savings in Dubai. Working as a receptionist and committed to finding a place for her family in the New Indian Dream of air-conditioned malls and high paid jobs at multi-national companies, life is going as planned until the
Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife, mother, and daughter-in-law holding the fort in a modest rental in Delhi while her husband tries to rack up savings in Dubai. Working as a receptionist and committed to finding a place for her family in the New Indian Dream of air-conditioned malls and high paid jobs at multi-national companies, life is going as planned until the day she strikes up a conversation with an uncommonly self-possessed stranger at a Metro station. Because while Mrs. Sharma may espouse traditional values, India is changing all around her, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if she came out of her shell a little, would it?
With equal doses of humor and pathos, The Private Life of Mrs Sharma is a sharp-eyed examination of the clashing of tradition and modernity, from a dramatic new voice in Indian fiction.
"Renu, the mesmerizing narrator in Ratika Kapur's The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma, has a gift for self-deception. It is baffling, then funny, and then quite poignant to witness . . . . The story [The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma] tells is taut, focused; its wider setting, the new India, pops with life. But the real star of this show is Renu, the Mrs. Sharma of the book's title. She starts in one dimension, then gradually plumps into three." - The New York Times
"[Mrs. Sharma's] words reveal a dignity more private and complex than society can perceive. The book is worthwhile, and quick to read--perfect for your train ride to work." - The New York Times Book Review
"[Sharma's] fraught, often humorous and irreverent narration is a study in cognitive dissonance, in which she is constantly trying to reconcile the complex stimuli of Delhi with the image of herself as a simple woman from a good family. Even as cultural products can feel increasingly generic in our technologically advanced global marketplace, Kapur proves that a gifted writer can still powerfully capture a complex voice from a singular place and time." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews
"The battle between then and now comes alive in Kapur's novel of life in an evolving India. Renuka's inner conflict mirrors that of her nation's battle to participate in an increasingly global world while maintaining traditions and cultural heritage. A beautiful, tragic, and highly recommended work by a writer previously long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize." - Booklist
"In Mrs. Sharma, Ms. Kapur has fashioned a memorably double-sided character for a novel that, like a gathering storm, changes before your eyes from soft light to enveloping darkness." - Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"If you're ready for ravishing glimpses into the secret passions of a contemporary yet traditional Indian wife, mother and medical worker who takes a lover, you'll adore The Private Life of Mrs Sharma." - Elle
"Mrs. Sharma's mounting omissions to her family will have you tearing through the pages of this provocative novel." - Marie Claire
"An absolute treat . . . this is a book you'll be tempted to read in one sitting." - Bustle, “8 Best Fiction Books Coming Out This December That Are Perfect For Holiday Snuggles”
"The first-person peregrinations of Renuka Sharma . . . reveal both a wry, honest voice and a perceptive witness." - Vulture.com, “7 Books You Need to Read This December”
"One sign of a great novel is an ending that seems shocking when you read it but entirely inevitable when you look back over the events of the book . . . The Private Life of Mrs Sharma delivers this punch both emotionally and in terms of its plot. Tender and funny . . . [Kapur] is a gifted writer . . . The author’s language is vivid and brutally honest . . . a razor-sharp take on gender and economic inequalities." - Irish Times
"Clever, wise . . . wonderfully funny . . . an easy pleasure to read . . . I will remember this book for years to come. The points it makes about motherhood, responsibility and self-deception are all so close to home . . . The feel of contemporary Indian life, caught between tradition and modernity, is brilliantly captured." - Newsday
"In Ratika Kapur's compelling tale, narrator Renu is in need of fulfillment. While her husband tries to make it in Dubai, she remains in Delhi, feeling trapped and alone. Her escape: an affair with a magnetic stranger she meets on her commute." - US Weekly
"This delightfully funny novel delivers a serious message about what happens when our responsibilities push us to the breaking point." - People, “Book of the Week"
"A unique and original new voice in Indian English fiction." - The Hindu
"A universal tale for our times . . . A novel that should speak to women everywhere." - The National (UAE)
In contradictory modern India, an urban womans private confession becomes a portrait, and perhaps an indictment, of 21st-century globalism. The novel opens with 37-year-old Renuka Sharma describing her first encounter with a stylish man at a Delhi metro station. His name is Vineet Sehgal, he is 30 years old, and he works in a boutique hotel in Gurgaon, a rapidly growing financial hub on the outskirts of Delhi. Renuka and Vineet soon become chaste but frequent companions, and she seems to learn everything there is to know about him. In return, Vineet has little curiosity about the facts of Renukas life. She is never forced to tell him that she's married, that her husband works in Dubai, that she lives with her 15-year-old son, Bobby, in a small flat, or even that her mother died when she was 13. Those intimate details are reserved for the reader, details of her domestic life mingling with observations about technology, poverty, ambition, real estate, respectability, and masturbation. As candid as her observations are, there are times even in these pages when she withholds the truth. When her relationship with Vineet does become sexual, it is stated casually, as an afterthought, and then expertly rationalized. Renuka seems to embody all the contradictions of urban India in the 21st-century global economy, with its shiny new malls and underdeveloped infrastructure, its growing wealth and collapsing middle class, its modernity and traditionalism. Her fraught, often humorous and irreverent narration is a study in cognitive dissonance, in which she is constantly trying to reconcile the complex stimuli of Delhi with the image of herself as a simple woman from a good family. Even as cultural products can feel increasingly generic in our technologically advanced global marketplace, Kapur (Overwinter, 2012) proves that a gifted writer can still powerfully capture a complex voice from a singular place and time.
- Bloomsbury USA
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- 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Meet the Author
Ratika Kapur's first novel, Overwinter, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Elle magazine's Indian edition included her in a Granta-inspired list of twenty writers under forty to look out for from South Asia. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and son.
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