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The Bandit Queens

A Novel

by Parini Shroff

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff X
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 352 pages

    Jan 2024, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Ahima
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Power Reviewer
Tired Bookreader

Super Fun Ride
If one is looking for a book to ease feelings of disappointment for ones' spouse, this book will give the humorous side of the joy of being single. It can be much easier when the person who gives daily challenges ceases to reside in the same house. I loved this book and have already recommended to several one has been disappointed. AND, there is a waiting list at several libraries...should tell you something!
Katherine Pond

Bonobos United
Having thought the caste system has been outlawed in India, it was surprising to find this tale set in current time. Still, the system is so very confusing, not the basis necessarily, but the strange differences in economic situations that can exist in the various levels--a Brahmin, the highest caste can grow up with no money, starving, dependent upon others, while a Dalit, an untouchable can be quite affluent.

Besides the caste system there are differences in the culture of Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians that are very significant. A Hindu widow for example cannot remarry, is excluded from all celebrations etc while a Muslim woman has great freedom as a widow.

Both of these conditions are significant in the story but of greater importance is the position of women in society. Although they are eligible for loans that men are not, their husbands can steal those funds or the monies the women earn from any small business they might set up with the loans.

The men are not to be punished for women and their funds are the possessions of the husbands. Wives can be sexually molested or beaten--if by their husbands there is no punishment and not a great deal of punishment of men not their husbands. Needless to say many women are not content living this way. And sometimes these women take matters into their own hands..

One such woman is Geeta, whose husband disappeared five years before the book begins. His body has never been found but the villagers assume Geeta killed him. In general, she is a loner and is friendless. She does have some leadership qualities and so she has been allowed into one of the loan groups which meets once a month to pay the loan man. It is this group of women who are the focus of the story. As with any group, especially of women, there is jealousy, gossip, cliquish behavior, and in time murder and blackmail.

At times, convoluted and dangerous, at others hilariously inept, these women struggle to have a voice and self-determination that the culture and traditions of thousands of years has denied them. In the end, old resentments and past degradations and cruelty are sorted. The village is changed in most cases for the better and the women become a wonderful group of bonobos!

Best Medicine
If laughter can cure cancer, I should be in remission soon because I just finished reading Parini Shroff's The Bandit Queens.
Power Reviewer

Reality in rural India
The Bandit Queens tells of the oppression of women in rural India. One husband disappears and rumors become murder. Other women ask her how she did it. She states she did not kill her husband. Geeta and the other women are part of a cooperative so they can make money and get loans. The story was sad yet uplifting as they find their independence. The only drawback was the overuse of Indian words. I found it distracting as I always had to pause and figure out what was being said.
Joane wolpin

Bandit Queens
The story had a very interesting theme. The reaction of these women to a possible crime epitomizes a novel of black humor. The way each of these women interpreted the possible crime made the story a little more believable.
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