You are about to embark on a remarkable journey. It begins on the teeming streets of Kolkata, India, and will transport you across arid plains and turbulent rivers to a secret valley high in the Himalayas. Along the way you will encounter powerful spirits, both good and unspeakably evil; fantastical creatures; and a trio of intrepid travelers who will linger in your memory long after the last page of this book is turned.
In a dingy shack in the less than desirable neighborhood that he calls home 12-year-old Anand is entrusted with a conch shell that possesses mystical powers. His task is to return the shell to its rightful home many hundreds of miles away. Accompanying him are Nisha, a headstrong but resourceful child of the streets, and a mysterious man of indeterminate age and surprising resources named Abadhyatta . . .
This is fantasy of the first order; an exotic and compelling adventure story that is almost impossible to put down. It is also a significant literary achievement by a distinguished author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
A letter from the author
Two different wishes led me into writing The Conch Bearer. One was to create a story for my two boys to enjoy and brag about ("My mom wrote a book, and guess who the 2 heroes are named after?") The other was, in post 9/11 America, to give the children of this country a book with Indian charactersforeign, strange, brown skinned characters a boy & a girl that seem very different from them but turn out, in their hopes & fears, not to be that different after all. Characters (I hope) that they will come to love. When you love people in books, it's a little harder to hate people like them in real life, no?
Once I started writing, though, what took over was the sheer fun of creating a storyand a story with magic in it (which I've always loved). I wove in places I know and places I've only dreamed about. Folktales and myth and cautionary stories and contemporary hardship and impossibilities and things I plain made up as I went along. When I write my adult books, there's a critic in my head pursing his lips and going, No, no, no. For the entire length of this book, I exiled him. (It was wonderful! Maybe I'll never let him back in!)
And so I now have a third & final wish: that readers will have as much fun reading The Conch Bearer as I had writing it.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Night Visitor
It was dark by the time Anand got off work, and he was very angry. Haru was supposed to let him go by 4 P.M., but he often found an excuse to keep Anand longer. Today he had claimed that Anand had not wiped the tables properly and made him do them all over again.
Anand had scrubbed the pocked wood of the tables furiously, biting his lip to make himself stay silent. Arguing, he knew, would only earn him a slap. Now he was going to be late for the market! Today was payday, and he had promised his mother that he would stop at the vegetable bazaar. For days now they'd had nothing to eat except potatoes and white radish boiled with rice, and he was tired of it. He had hoped to get a bunch of fresh, crisp spinach, or some sheem beans to fry up with chilies. But by now most of the pavement vendors would be gone. If only I had the power to run my hands over the tables and make them new and shiny! he thought. But no, if I knew how to work that kind of changing magic,...
I read The Conch Bearer to our two children last year (then aged 8 and 10). We all enjoyed it and they always wanted to squeeze in a couple more pages when it was time to stop. One reviewer suggests that The Conch Bearer is merely a rehashing of Kipling - presumably comparing it to Kim. All I can say to that is I suggest the reviewer try reading Kim to a few elementary school age children and see how she does!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (578 words).
Divakaruni says she wrote the book for two
reasons; firstly to give her two sons bragging rights that their mom
had written a book and two of the heroes were named after them
(sorry, I don't know which two!); and in our post 9/11 world, to
give American children a book about children who might superficially
seem very different to them, but in fact are not that different
The Conch Bearer is the first in a planned trilogy. The second book, The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming is due to be released in September. Unlike many series books, The Conch Bearer reaches a satisfying ...
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