Excerpt from A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Girl Like That

by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena X
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 384 pages
    Feb 2019, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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Print Excerpt

The priest gathered our papers and skimmed through the descriptions. "Some of you have good imaginations," he said. "But this isn't what really happens."

Zoroastrian death, he explained, was followed by a journey that began three days later, at the foot of a silvery bridge arching up into a brightness that blinded the eyes. The bridge, called the Chinvat, had to be crossed by every soul three days after death.

As I grew older, I liked to think of the bridge as the Walk of Fame or of Shame. Your fate lay in the Hallowed Brightness Up Above or the Dark Abyss Down Below. If you had sinned too much, the bridge would become blade thin and you'd fall into the Abyss, but without the eternal damnation that plagued so many monotheistic religions. For Zoroastrians, there was only a temporary hell, somewhat like the Jewish and Roman Catholic concepts of purgatory.

I thought the concept of the Chinvat itself was unique to Zoroastrians until I turned twelve, when Mishal Al-Abdulaziz, the meanest girl in Qala Academy, informed me about a similar bridge in Islam called As-Sirat, or the Bridge of Hell.

There were times over the years when I found the whole process of arguing with Mishal over this subject futile. After all, Mishal's true knowledge of what happened after death extended to corpses in boxes and rectangular graves. Similarly, mine was limited to shrouded bodies being carried up a set of stairs by pallbearers—bodies that would end up as entrées in a meal for the vultures circling the Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill in Mumbai.

Emergency lights flashed below: a new van had arrived at the scene of our accident. Two men in white uniforms emerged with a stretcher, probably to carry our bodies to a morgue. Porus didn't seem to notice. He continued staring at his mother—the only one who, apart from my uncle, seemed to be shedding real tears.

Excerpted from A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena. Copyright © 2018 by Tanaz Bhathena. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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