Rupa Bajwa The Sari Shop

ISBN 13: 9780141015613

The Sari Shop

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9780141015613: The Sari Shop

Young Ramchand rushes through the dusty streets of Amritsar, once again late for work. Chastised by his boss, he takes his place among the cottons and silks of the sari shop, selling yards of cloth to the wealthy and fashionable women of the town. Offered a glimpse of a more opulent world, Ramchand is seduced by the idea that he might somehow better himself. But making dreams real will come at a price that a poor shop assistant might not be able to pay Funny, compelling and unflinchingly honest, The Sari Shop is a heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to be someone else and a brilliantly clear-sighted debut.

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About the Author:

Rupa Bajwa was born in Amritsar, north India in 1976. She is currently based in Amritsar. The Sari Shop is her first novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

Bajwa dramatically illustrates the class gap in contemporary India in her debut novel, focusing on the fortunes of Ramchand, a lowly, disaffected clerk in a popular sari shop. The novel opens with Ramchand happily going about his duties serving the shop's mostly upper-class clients. Opportunity for advancement comes from an unlikely source when he attracts the attention of the beautiful, literate Rina Kapoor, whose family hires the shop to provide saris for her upcoming wedding. Inspired by his foray into a wider world ("there were cars and flowerpots and frosted glass trays with peacocks on them"), Ramchand embarks on a half-baked self-improvement effort that includes a reading program and some unintentionally comic attempts to learn English. Shortly afterwards, though, Ramchand sees the other side of Indian life when the wife of one of his co-workers, a woman named Kamla, descends into public drunkenness. Ramchand is a tenderly drawn character, reminiscent of Naipaul's innocent strivers, and the rest of the cast is vividly sketched. There are several typical first-novel flaws: the narrative is slow in the first half, and Bajwa's transitions between her character-driven subplots are occasionally uneven and erratic. But Bajwa's loving attention to detail—Ramchand washing his feet with lemon juice before he visits the Kapoors, the malicious chatter of the sari-shopping ladies—paints a compelling, acerbic picture of urban India.
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