The debut novel from the award-winning screenwriter of Bhaji on the Beach. The story of nine-year-old Meena, growing up in the only Punjabi family in the Black Country mining village of Tollington.It's 1972. Meena is nine years old and lives in the village of Tollington, `the jewel of the Black Country'. She is the daughter of Indian parents who have come to England to give her a better life. As one of the few Punjabi inhabitants of her village, her daily struggle for independence is different from most. She wants fishfingers and chips, not chapati and dhal; she wants an English Christmas, not the usual interminable Punjabi festivities - but more than anything, she wants to roam the backyards of working-class Tollington with feisty Anita Rutter and her gang.Blonde, cool, aloof, outrageous and sassy, Anita is everything Meena thinks she wants to be. Meena wheedles her way into Anita's life, but the arrival of a baby brother, teenage hormones, impending entrance exams for the posh grammar school and a motorcycling rebel without a future, threaten to turn Anita's salad days sour.Anita and Me paints a comic, poignant, compassionate and colourful portrait of village life in the era of flares, power cuts, glam rock, decimalisation and Ted Heath. It is a unique vision of a British childhood in the Seventies, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of change.
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Meera Syal is a writer, actress, playwright, comic and novelist. She wrote the screenplays for the films Bhaji on the Beach and the multi-award-winning My Sister Wife. Anita and Me, her first novel, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. Her second novel, Life Isn't All Ha-Ha, Hee-Hee, was published in 1999.From Kirkus Reviews:
Nine-year-old Meena Kumar's cheeky narrative of her life as the only Punjabi girl in a small English village unfolds through wonderfully evocative description. Tollington, a once-thriving Midlands mining village, is, in the early '70s, on the decline. When the mines shut down, the men are idled while the town's suddenly assertive women form the Ballbearings Committee, a name to designate their employment at the local factory (among other things). A highway threatens to take away part of the village, the grammar school is closing down, skinheads are beginning to loiter in the kiddie park, and suburban sprawl is inching closer. These ominous changes form the background of the inventive Meena's life. She is alternately amused and embarrassed by her family and idolizes the roughest, brassiest girl in town, Anita Rutter. Meena is, much to her parents' chagrin, no angel: She lies, commits minor thefts, and has the bad habit of making vulgar remarks when her prim and proper aunties are around. Each small incident that Meena tells about leads to an arsenal of vividly described related anecdotes before the linear narrative is finally regained, a process that forms an endearing, richly three- dimensional picture of Meena and her family. Meanwhile, the story of the girl's relationship with Anita nicely illuminates the difficult, unspoken politics of childhood friendship. The two girls lead a gang, bully others, and engage in exuberant antics even though, in an increasingly poor and tense England, there is always an ominous undercurrent to events. Anita's black poodle is named ``Nigger,'' a local Indian bank manager is the victim of a racial attack, and Meena's secret love becomes a boot-stomping skinhead. Meena's loss of innocence, and her recognition of her heritage, coincides with her realization that her seemingly harmonious village also harbors violence, hatred, and fear. Syal handles all of this with an expert hand. Far from just another coming-of-age saga, Syal's impressive debut offers a charming yet troubling evocation of recent times. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Flamingo, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 000714301X