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Reviews of Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere

by Sindya Bhanoo

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo X
Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2022, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2023, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Will Heath
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About this Book

Book Summary

These intimate stories of South Indian immigrants and the families they left behind center women's lives and ask how women both claim and surrender power - a stunning debut collection from an O. Henry Prize winner.

Traveling from Pittsburgh to Eastern Washington to Tamil Nadu, these stories about dislocation and dissonance see immigrants and their families confront the costs of leaving and staying, identifying sublime symmetries in lives growing apart.

In "Malliga Homes," selected by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for an O. Henry Prize, a widow in a retirement community glimpses her future while waiting for her daughter to visit from America. In "No. 16 Model House Road," a woman long subordinate to her husband makes a choice of her own after she inherits a house. In "Nature Exchange," a mother grieving in the wake of a school shooting finds an unusual obsession. In "A Life in America," a professor finds himself accused of having exploited his graduate students.

Sindya Bhanoo's haunting stories show us how immigrants' paths, and the paths of those they leave behind, are never simple. Bhanoo takes us along on their complicated journeys where regret, hope, and triumph appear in disguise.

Malliga Homes

Mr. Swaminathan died as he was walking back to his flat from the Veg dining hall after dinner. He was ahead of me on the path, and I saw him slow down. His gait changed from a fast stride to a slower, hunched walk. His left arm went limp. He lost his footing and crumpled to the ground. If I had not been swift, I imagine, he would have hit his head on the concrete. There would have been blood. But I caught up with him. Before he fell, I squatted to the ground and put my hands out, and his head fell directly into my open palms. Carefully, I slipped my hands out, set his head gently on the concrete, and sat at his side talking to him. His left eye looked lower than his right. His left cheek sagged, as if it might slide off.

I held his hand until the ambulance arrived. It was the first time that I had held a man's hand since my husband died. The rectangular diamond on Mr. Swaminathan's gold ring was hard and cold in contrast to his warm skin. Before they loaded his body ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The tightness and brevity of these tales allow for a cohesive flow and focus that remains across the entire reading experience. That focus is demonstrated by the book's unifying themes of distance and connection. The collection's first story — "Malliga Homes" — tells the tale of an elderly woman who has been housed in a retirement village by her daughter Kamala, who immigrated to the United States. The theme of connection runs deeper than the issue of geography, as is best seen in the story "Nature Exchange." In this story, Veena is a woman in her 30s who lost her only child — a boy of seven — to a school shooting. Connection is tested in a different way in the story "A Life in America," in which an Indian professor at a U.S. college finds himself under fire from local newspapers...continued

Full Review (633 words)

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(Reviewed by Will Heath).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Exquisite...Bhanoo's piercing stories further augment the growing shelves of spectacular first short story collections by women of color.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
These are psychologically astute stories—and also riveting. By carefully withholding key details, Bhanoo transforms human drama into mystery. Graceful stories by a writer with enormous empathy for even the most flawed and forlorn among us.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Journalist Bhanoo's stunning debut collection spotlights women who navigate comfortable but often stifling cultural traditions while pursuing new-world promises...Bhanoo finds novel ways for her protagonists to cope with adversity. Growing apart from the past, rather than crushing their spirit and individuality, brings them freedom and hope for the future. This introduces a great new talent.

Author Blurb Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Souvenir Museum
What a beautiful book Seeking Fortune Elsewhere is—stories about home, love, heartache, and betrayal, about the moral complexity of human love in all its varieties. Sindya Bhanoo describes her characters with an astonishing mixture of mercy and mercilessness, which is to say they live and breathe and will break your heart and stun you. Indeed, the whole book is stunning, and the good news is it's only her first.

Author Blurb Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept
This achingly beautiful collection charts the emotional journeys and complicated ties of those who choose to leave and those who are left behind. You will ache for the women at the center of these powerful stories. You will cry for their losses and celebrate their tiny victories. Bhanoo's stories affirm humanity as only good literature can achieve. A magnificent debut of a writer you will read for years to come.

Author Blurb Tania James, author of The Tusk That Did the Damage
I am still in the grip of this gorgeous collection. How thrilling to see women I know in these pages, tender and fierce, yearning for freedom yet plagued by the past. Each character has carved a precise space in my mind. Every one of these stories glows with truth.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Fiction by Indian Diaspora Authors

Sindya Bhanoo, author of the story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, writes about South Indian immigrant and diaspora communities and the connections people in them maintain (or lose) with family in India. Bhanoo, who lives in Texas, was born to immigrant parents in the United States. The Indian diaspora is the largest in the world and encompasses a wide range of cultures, languages and experiences. Below are a few additional works of fiction by Indian diaspora authors that cover all kinds of subjects and that have been reviewed and recommended on BookBrowse.

Covers of novels by Indian diaspora authors

Girls Burn Brighter (2018) — Shobha Rao emigrated from India to the United States at age seven. She published the short story collection An Unrestored Woman in ...

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