Excerpt from Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Miss New India

A Novel

By Bharati Mukherjee

Miss New India
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: May 2011,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2012,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Mr. Champion was in high teaching mode, in full confessional self-display. He was, he said, a man in love.

"So that explains the woman's touch," she said. "But where is she?"

"Angie, Angie." He tut-tutted.

She wondered for a moment if she herself was the woman he'd chosen and if the next words from his mouth would be "I love you, Angie, I always have, and I won't let you leave until you agree to go to America as my bride..." She had a romantic nature; she assumed any man could love her.

Bravely, she asked, "So who is this person you want me to meet?"

"You've met him, Angie."

She was left in the dark, still smiling. She hadn't seen anybody, and there was no place to hide.

"It's too late for me to leave," he said, "but for you I want the best." Is this a proposal, she wondered, and almost asked out loud, trying to help him. I'll do it! I'll make you happy! Then he said, "You must try a larger city." She'd always imagined herself in Bombay or maybe on the beaches of Goa, and so she mentioned those possibilities to him. Eventually, even in America, she thought, though she dared not say it for fear of inviting the evil eye.

"Bombay?" He laughed. "You've been seeing too many bad movies. Bombay is yesterday. It's a hustler's city. Bangalore's the place for a young woman like you."

She wondered, Is that where he's taking me? Why not? I'll go. Then: What kind of girl am I?

She knew nothing of Bangalore, a southern city as alien to her as the snows of Kashmir. Mr. Champion was back in teaching mode. He explained that for two hundred years Bangalore had been a British army base, a cantonment, and the Britishers had left a few scars - golf courses and racetracks and private gymkhanas - that moneyed Indians adopted a little too enthusiastically. But now it's a hopping place. And he had contacts in Bangalore, people who would listen to his recommendations. The call centers, luring thousands of young people from all over the country, people like her, the new people.

Ali returned with a box of sweets.

"In Bangalore," Mr. Champion said, "if you've got the talent, there's a market."

This time she asked the question that was always on her mind. "And what is my talent, Mr. Champion?"

"Peter, please. Don't you know what your talent is?"

"I haven't the p'oggiest."

"Foggiest, Angie. Initial f-sound, not p. Initial w-sound, not v, and vice versa. Wedding, not vedding. Vagaries, not wagaries. Not wice wersa. Develop, not dewellup. Keep practicing."

She could cry. They'll always find you out.

"Your talent, Angie? You have the passion. You're not satisfied. But you're still very innocent. Innocence is appealing in a young girl, but not blindness, not ignorance. Look at us." She smiled at his way of including her, but then he said, "Look closely at us, Angie, take a long look at Ali and me."

At the mention of his name, Ali smiled and began to dance. The boy was a good dancer; he must have seen a hundred movies. And then Peter stood and put his arm over Ali's shoulder, and Ali nestled his head against Peter's cheek.

A clash of emotions met the dawn of consciousness: she could have screamed, but instead she whimpered, barely above a breath, "Oh."

Peter went on about places in Bangalore where she could stay. He knew old women from the British days who let out rooms in old mansions in the middle of the city, houses that could have been sold for crores of rupees (and leveled, their tangled gardens hacked down for parking lots and swimming pools), but where would the old women go? Old Anglo-Indian women whose children had fled to Australia or Canada, whose grandchildren would never see India, dotty old women whose sense of decorum reached back to pre-Independence days and who ("Believe me!" he laughed) would never be sympathetic to India's freedom fighters and independence, but who nevertheless offered rooms and breakfasts of tea and toast and suppers of mutton stew at 1970s prices. Much was forgivable in such women. A place in Kew Gardens or Kent Town, that's what Angie needed. And he knew the women who ran the new money-spinning call centers were always looking for girls with good English and soothing voices who could fool American callers (I can do that? she was about to ask. I'm good enough to fool Americans?) into thinking they're talking to a girl in Boston or Chicago.

Excerpted from Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee. Copyright © 2011 by Bharati Mukherjee. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.