Excerpt from The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Earthspinner

A Novel

by Anuradha Roy

The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy X
The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2022, 224 pages

    Jul 11, 2023, 224 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Tasneem Pocketwala
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The Earthspinner

Thursday, October 11

It is autumn and I am at university in England. I've never known autumn. Where I grew up, the monsoon cooled into a mild winter that the trees did not think it worth changing color for and in a matter of days it went straight to the infernos of summer. Here, the light is green and gold, and in the rectangle of trees framed by my window, russet and burgundy leaves drift from the sky, alive in the moving air. It's quiet enough for me to hear their soft rustle as they touch the ground and the nib of my pen scratching on blue aerogram paper. I am fine, everything was okay on the plane. All the houses looked the same from the air, like toys. The grass is a different shade of green.

"You always manage to get away, you always have it easy," my sister's voice keeps saying in my head. Those had been her parting words at the airport though she did not utter them out loud.

Tia has three years of school to finish, is defeated every day in her tussles with books. She can't get beyond 50 percent in any exam and cries, "What's the point of reading about gauchos and flamenco? I want to be in Argentina!" She has other plans for herself, ever changing save for one constant: they involve glass, not paper. Mirrors, camera lenses, dancing on glass, pouring cocktails into a glass. She has a low, rich voice, she has only to start her lazy humming of "Tall and thin and young and lovely" and people stop to listen. Her long, slender feet show that she has many more inches to grow. She wants to leapfrog over her school years and find youth, acting, filmmaking without the slog of a college degree.

"What do you mean, what's the news? Is there ever any news at this dump?" she wailed the other day on the phone when I called. "Now you've gone, I can never leave. I'll be stuck here, looking after Amma my whole bloody life."

"So much drama, Tia," I said. "Which book are you living in these days? Not Little Women, I'll bet. Where is Amma right now, anyway?"

"Still at work. And I'm busy too," she shouted, slamming down the phone. She'd be scowling and throwing punches at her reflection in the mirror next to the phone as if she were aiming her blows at me. Of this I was sure.

I spent the rest of the day sick with remorse about my sarcasm, picturing Tia in her room, music exploding through her locked doors while she skulked inside, hating me more with every angry yowl of electric guitar. Her door would stay shut till late at night and my mother would keep knocking louder and louder. "Come out and eat, Tia ... What's going on, Tia? ... Tell me what's wrong." If I were home, I'd charge out for a run—needing to get away—whatever the time, however unbearable the heat.

I'm good at exams but Tia is wrong, I didn't have it easy doing them and I don't have it easy now. I am broke here, on a scholarship that believes in enforcing virtue through austerity. The scholarship comes from the grandly named Farhana Abdulali Endowment for Girls' Education and is meant for Muslim girls. That didn't discourage Begum Tasneem Khan, who had her shrewd eyes trained on me through most of my final year at school though I did not know it. One afternoon I was summoned to the principal's office and I went in filled with dread but left clutching application forms.

"Why don't you apply," she had said. "No harm trying."

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Excerpted from The Earthspinner by Anuradha Roy. Reprinted with permission from the publisher HarperVia, an imprint of HarperCollins. Copyright © 2022 by Anuradha Roy.

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