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Deaf Heaven by Pinki Virani
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Deaf Heaven

by Pinki Virani

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This is an important book for what Virani has to say about politics, religion, and the spread of terrorism in India. The author includes paper clipped snippets of facts and explanations of events in India's past as well as cultural norms that are still present today. These little cards of information definitely expounded upon parts of the storyline or events that were mentioned. I am ashamed to admit I did not know about the events that Virani included in the book--violent and deadly fights between the Muslims and Hindus, monsoon rains that flooded Mumbai in a 24 hour period, and the destruction of several Muslim mosques by select Hindu groups. Learning these aspects of Indian history (very recent history at that, the book was published in 2009) was the most important and engaging part of the book for me.

Besides the paper clipped inserts, the other unusual aspect about this book was the writing. Virani chose to use a mixture of English and multiple Indian languages. Virani also had two characters communicate primarily by text messages which were written using texting abbreviations and the same mixture of multiple languages. Neither of these aspects bothered me that much once I got used to them but I can see them being off-putting to some readers, and I admit I could not decipher the text messages 100% of the time.

The storylines were lacking. The book opens with Saraswati dead in the library she works at and telling the story of the strong, single mother that raised Saraswati and her sister. I really liked Saraswati's voice in the prologue and hoped for that continue throughout the book. But the majority of the book switched back and forth between many characters whose relationship to Saraswati was never made clear. All the characters were somehow connected to the Bollywood film industry. The cast of characters included the film stars themselves, their families and friends, the journalists, and the beauticians and caterers employed by these socialites. Sometimes it seemed as if I was just reading a who's who in the Indian Bollywood scene.

This was a very timely read since the infamous monsoon of Mumbai happened 10 years ago this year and Virani includes the environmental experts' prediction that there will be a "Katrina-like situation in Mumbai by 2015." Let's hope this forecast doesn't come true.

I would not recommend this book to anyone who cannot tolerate reading about the horrific acts committed by terrorists especially the unspeakable things done to women and children. It only came up less than a handful of times in the book, but I still found those parts hard to get through. ( )
  Tara1Reads | Mar 4, 2015 |
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The voice is that of Saraswati, librarian and collector of curious facts, who dies among her beloved books on Thursday evening. Until her body is discovered on Monday, her spirit is free to play sutradhar and watch over all she holds dear: her sister Damayanti, wife of a superstar; Tisca, heroine spurned by a rising star; Qudsia Begum, Bangalore beautician and wise mother; Czaerandhari, erstwhile maharani and sms-addict; hard-talking journalist Nafisa, does she hide a secret?… (more)

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