Announcing Our Best Books of 2021

Amulya Malladi Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Amulya Malladi
© Søren Rasmussen

Amulya Malladi

An interview with Amulya Malladi

Amylya Malladi explains how being brought up in Bhopal, India, inspired her to write her first novel A Breath of Fresh Air.

I was nine years old when my father, who was then a Major in the Indian Army, was posted in Bhopal, India. It was 1984 and the last half of the year showed me that the world was divided in the name of religion and made me come to terms with the finality of death.

Two incidents that took place in 1984 will forever be embossed in my memory: the death of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

When Indira Gandhi died, for the first time I was faced with death. Most of my grandparents had all passed away before I had been born; only my paternal grandmother was alive. No one who was close to me had died and when Mrs. Gandhi passed away, I felt like someone I knew had gone away. It had nothing to do with politics, after all, what does a nine year old know about such matters, my devastation arose from losing someone who had been a constant in my little life. I distinctly remember watching her funeral and through out the ceremony I wished and hoped that they had made a mistake and she was actually alive.

In the aftermath of her death, the country went into mourning and chaos. The ensuing riots didn't leave anyone uninvolved. That was the first time I came face to face with the idea of a war between religions. What had seemed inconceivable to me--to fight in the name of religion--was happening and I struggled with trying to understand this. After all, my entire life, I had played and studied with children of all religions, caste and gender. Everyday I pledged my allegiance to my country at the school morning assembly and vowed that I would not discriminate in the name of religion.

Even before I could recover from Mrs. Gandhi's assassination, the night of December 3, 1984 brought with it more carnage and tragedy. We were having our half-yearly exams and I remember desperately memorizing something for a Sanskrit exam in the school bus. When I heard that there had been an explosion in the railway station and that all doctors (this came from children whose father's were doctors in the army) had been called away in the middle of the night, I was relieved. There probably wouldn't be an exam. We could go back home. It was days before I understood what had happened and how lucky we had all been.

The Army Center where we lived was just a few kilometers away from the Union Carbide plant. It was the wind, blowing in another direction that saved our lives.

For years I wanted to tell the story of that year, to convey what had happened without losing the small picture. I wanted to tell the story of people who were affected by what happened, how the human spirit is strong and no matter what is thrown our way, we survive.

A Breath of Fresh Air came to me years later when I was living in Utah, thousands of miles away in time and geography. I already knew who Anjali was, had known for several years but I didn't know who would tell her story or what her story would be. Slowly, it unraveled and I was caught up in her life and the story I wanted to tell found a voice.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Amulya Malladi at BookBrowse
A Breath of Fresh Air jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Amulya Malladi but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Kathy Hepinstall

    Kathy Hepinstall

    Kathy Hepinstall was born in Odessa, Texas and was raised mostly in Spring, Texas, two hours from the Louisiana border, where most of her relatives still reside. She lives in Austin, Texas. Her first novel, The House of ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Breath of Fresh Air

    Try:
    The House of Gentle Men
    by Kathy Hepinstall

  • Alka Joshi

    Alka Joshi

    Alka Joshi was born in India and raised in the U.S. since the age of nine. She has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts and runs an advertising and marketing agency. She has lived in France... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Breath of Fresh Air

    Try:
    The Secret Keeper of Jaipur
    by Alka Joshi

We recommend 6 similar authors

View all 6 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    People from My Neighborhood
    by Hiromi Kawakami
    People from My Neighborhood is exactly what it sounds like — an unnamed narrator recounts a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Win Me Something
    by Kyle Lucia Wu
    Kyle Lucia Wu's Win Me Something opens with a young woman named Willa explaining that she did not ...
  • Book Jacket: The Island of Missing Trees
    The Island of Missing Trees
    by Elif Shafak
    The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak tells a tale of generational trauma, explores identity ...
  • Book Jacket: The Correspondents
    The Correspondents
    by Judith Mackrell
    In the introduction to The Correspondents, author Judith Mackrell points out that although there had...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beasts of a Little Land
    by Juhea Kim

    An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement.

Who Said...

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Y Can't S T H, G O O T K

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.