MLA Gold Award Site

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
  • First Published:
    May 2011, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1

At nineteen, Anjali Bose was a tall girl, one hundred and seventy-three centimeters - five foot eight - taller than most boys in her college. She was on the girls' field hockey team. She smiled readily and when she did, she could light up a room like a halogen lamp. The conventional form of Indian femininity projects itself through long-lashed, kohl-rimmed, startled black eyes. Modest women know to glance upward from a slightly bowed head. Anjali did not take in the world with saucer-eyed passivity. Her light, greenish eyes were set off by high cheekbones and prominent brows. Her face resolved itself along a long jaw and generous mouth, with full lips and prominent teeth. Her parents, looking to the day they would have to marry her off, worried openly about her overly assertive features. But the rare foreigners who passed through town, health workers or financial aid consultants for international agencies, found her looks striking and her boldness charming. Speaking to them, she sometimes claimed a touch of Burmese or Nepali ancestry. She told many stories, all of them plausible, some of them perhaps even true. She always made an outstanding first impression.

On any street at market hour in the provincial town of Gauripur, in the state of Bihar, there could be a dozen Anjalis - "offerings to god" - but no man not a relative would dare call them by name. Most of those other Anjalis would be married, hobbled by saris, carrying infants or clutching the hands of toddlers while their husbands haggled for fish and vegetables. To be hailed from the street by a man on a scooter would be scandalous. The call had to be for her, the strider in jeans and a T-shirt advertising the maiden tour (Hamburg, Stuttgart, Köln, Basel, Zürich, Wien, Bratislava - she loved the umlauts) of Panzer Delight, a German punk-rock band, some few years back - the young woman who could wait to be called by the name she preferred, Angela, or better yet, Angie. A rusty old Lambretta scooter, the kind that had been popular with Gauripur's office workers way back in the 1960s, braked to a wheezing stop; its driver waved and nudged it toward her through the blue diesel smoke from buses and trucks, the dense clutter of handcarts and bicycles: swollen, restless India on the move.

She was standing outside Gauripur Bazaar, known locally as Pinky Mahal, the town's three-story monument to urban progress. When Pinky Mahal was being built, bricks had been carried, one by one, by dozens of child laborers hired by the day. Rows of women workers had threaded their way along single planks, balancing bowls of cement on their heads and then dumping the contents into plastic buckets. During the construction a corporate billboard had stood on Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Road, an epic portrait to feed a credulous public: a magnificent, five-story office tower behind a small landscaped forest of shade and flowering trees, lawns, fountains, and sundials. On the billboard turbaned doormen greeted the gleaming row of imported cars pulling up at the building's entrance. And above the turbaned heads floated two legends: your new corporate hdqs in beautiful, exciting gauripur! and act now! commercial space going fast!

Fanciful renderings of a future that would never come.

The office tower, with three stories instead of the advertised five, was completed in a year, but within six months of its ceremonial opening the pink outer plaster had begun to crumble, leaving long veins of exposed brick. The contractor claimed that the pink paint was sour and had reacted to the sweet plaster. Acid and alkaline, the developer explained to the press, then absconded to the Persian Gulf. And so Pinky Mahal, its two top floors unoccupied, its ground floor leased and subleased by owners of small shops who put up with fluctuating electrical service and no air conditioning because of the low rent, had become an eyesore rather than a proud monument in the center of town.

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: Everyone Brave is Forgiven
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven
    by Chris Cleave
    I've always been interested in the history of the Blitz, the period of intense aerial raids of ...
  • Book Jacket: Saving Montgomery Sole
    Saving Montgomery Sole
    by Mariko Tamaki
    Understanding identity is one the most important parts of adolescence. For some teenagers, those who...
  • Book Jacket: All Tomorrow's Parties
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    by Phaedra Patrick

    In a poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Sign O T T

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.