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Haunting Bombay: A Novel
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Published:
Soho Press 2009
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Description

This San Francisco Chronicle bestseller is "[an] intriguing debut [that] seeks to give voice to the dispossessed through the supernatural" (USA Today). After her mother's death crossing the border from Pakistan to India during Partition, baby Pinky was taken in by her grandmother, Maji, the matriarch of the powerful Mittal family. Now thirteen years old, Pinky lives with her grandmother and her uncle's family in a bungalow on the Malabar Heights in Bombay. While she has never really been accepted by her uncle's family, she has always had Maji's love. One day, as monsoons engulf the city, Pinky opens a mysteriously bolted door, unleashing the ghosts of an infant who drowned shortly before Pinky's arrival and of the nursemaid who cared for the child. Now, three generations of the Mittal family must struggle to come to terms with their secrets amidst hidden shame, forbidden love, and a call for absolute sacrifice. "In her stunning debut novel Shilpa Agarwal takes on the ghosts that bedevil young Pinky Mittal's extended family and dispatches them with rambunctious wit and affection. The result is like finely wrought mirror work, a glittering tapestry of vibrant contradictions, characters, and mysteries. Haunting Bombay flirts deliciously with the true spirit of India." —Aimee Liu, author of Flash House "Will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri. . . . Fresh, original." —Library Journal

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/01/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781569477083
ASIN:
B004HYH9YU
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Shilpa Agarwal. (2009). Haunting Bombay: A Novel. Soho Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Shilpa Agarwal. 2009. Haunting Bombay: A Novel. Soho Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Shilpa Agarwal, Haunting Bombay: A Novel. Soho Press, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Shilpa Agarwal. Haunting Bombay: A Novel. Soho Press, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:59:35
Date Updated:
Oct 26, 2020 05:22:20
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Oct 26, 2020 05:23:19
Last Availability Change:
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Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
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      • value: family secrets
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      • value: suspense
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      • value: Horror
      • value: murder
      • value: magical realism
      • value: Thriller
      • value: Contemporary
      • value: Haunted places
      • value: Magic
      • value: ghost story
      • value: fairy tales
      • value: literature
      • value: fiction books
      • value: fantasy
      • value: Literary
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      • role: Author
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      • bioText:

        Shilpa Agarwal was born in Bombay and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Duke University and UCLA and has taught at both UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Haunting Bombay is her first novel.

      • name: Shilpa Agarwal
publishDate
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title
Haunting Bombay
fullDescription

This San Francisco Chronicle bestseller is "[an] intriguing debut [that] seeks to give voice to the dispossessed through the supernatural" (USA Today).

After her mother's death crossing the border from Pakistan to India during Partition, baby Pinky was taken in by her grandmother, Maji, the matriarch of the powerful Mittal family. Now thirteen years old, Pinky lives with her grandmother and her uncle's family in a bungalow on the Malabar Heights in Bombay. While she has never really been accepted by her uncle's family, she has always had Maji's love.

One day, as monsoons engulf the city, Pinky opens a mysteriously bolted door, unleashing the ghosts of an infant who drowned shortly before Pinky's arrival and of the nursemaid who cared for the child. Now, three generations of the Mittal family must struggle to come to terms with their secrets amidst hidden shame, forbidden love, and a call for absolute sacrifice.

"In her stunning debut novel Shilpa Agarwal takes on the ghosts that bedevil young Pinky Mittal's extended family and dispatches them with rambunctious wit and affection. The result is like finely wrought mirror work, a glittering tapestry of vibrant contradictions, characters, and mysteries. Haunting Bombay flirts deliciously with the true spirit of India." —Aimee Liu, author of Flash House

"Will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri. . . . Fresh, original." —Library Journal

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: USA Today
      • content: "Intriguing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews, starred review
      • content: "Will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri . . . fresh, original."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 2, 2009
        Agarwal's atmospheric if excessively detailed debut takes readers deep into the mysterious heart of Bombay in the 1960s. Thirteen-year-old Pinky Mittal lives with her obese, matriarchal grandmother, Maji; her alcoholic uncle, Jaginder; bitter aunt Savita; and three teenage male cousins. Taken in as an infant by her grandmother after her mother died, Pinky knows she's Maji's favorite, even if her aunt despises her. Driven by adolescent curiosity, Pinky unlocks a door in her family bungalow that has been bolted her entire life and unleashes the ghost of an infant girl and her midwife, sending her whole family into a tailspin. Surrounded by superstitions and spirituality, Pinky tries to unravel a past rife with pain and deceit as three generations of her formerly stalwart family crumble around her. This multigenerational family saga is rich with eccentric characters and period details, but Agarwal too often clogs the page with nonessential descriptions.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2009
        Set, obviously enough, in Bombay, this novel purports to be eerie but doesn't wring much horror from the weirdness it recounts.

        A very pregnant young woman defiles the altar of a goddess when her water breaks unexpectedly, and shortly thereafter the baby drowns. Thirteen years later, a young girl named Pinky, who had been brought into the family shortly after her birth, opens the door of a bungalow that has been bolted—uriously enough for 13 years—and lets loose the ghost that has been awaiting an opportunity to emerge. Pinky's entire family is both haunted by and implicated in the unearthly and sinister exploits. Savita, the mother of the dead child, finds her breasts begin to swell and then explode with milk, while her husband Jaginder, who deals with his pain by drinking and by asserting his dominance over his wife, is set into a rage when she reveals the secret of her dead child to others. A Hindu priest is called in to do (for want of a better term) an exorcism, but he's both spooked and ineffective. One of the problems with the narrative—and what prevents it from being either hair-raising or bone-chilling—is that the ghost manifests itself, sometimes by weird sounds in the pipes (because"what killed the baby now sustains the ghost") and sometimes as a phantasmal presence:"The ghost gracefully unfurled herself along a line of jute in the boys' room and hung upside-down, hair swaying beneath her, as she assessed her work." And later,"Hovering just inside a window, the baby ghost watched the family's new routine with curiosity." A ghost with this kind of physicality is hard to take seriously, and the family's reaction to their supernatural harassment seems overwrought.

        All the ingredients of a great ghost story except fear and trembling.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from March 15, 2009
        Love is stronger than death, and secrets will always come out, as this carefully crafted debut novel reveals. When teenager Pinky Mittal unbolts a long-closed door, the spirit of a dead child emerges, forcing one Bombay family to deal with its private demons. Whether or not Pinky and her family are psychologically equipped to do so, however, is a question fraught with personal and political anguish. Readers who enjoy a good ghost story will appreciate the tense interplay between the living and the dead as the former seek to deny, then ignore, then banish the latter. Those who prefer realism will find Agarwal's snapshot of 1960s Bombay compelling and savor her attention to both historic and domestic detailsthe descriptions of food, jewelry, furniture, and religious ritual are particularly vivid. Agarwal's work will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri by virtue of its characters and setting, but it retains a fresh, original feel that will draw in new readers with its own literary merit. Recommended for all but the smallest fiction collections.Leigh Anne Vrabel, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

popularity
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shortDescription

"[An] intriguing debut novel...Agarwal seeks to give voice to the dispossessed through the supernatural."--USA Today


"[Shilpa] Agarwal's work will definitely appeal to fans of Monica Ali and Jhumpa Lahiri by virtue of its characters and setting, but it retains a fresh, original feel that will draw in new readers with its own literary merit. Recommended for all but the smallest fiction collections."--Library Journal

"In her stunning debut novel Shilpa Agarwal takes on the ghosts that bedevil young Pinky Mittal's extended family and dispatches them with rambunctious wit and affection. The result is like finely wrought mirror work, a glittering tapestry of vibrant contradictions, characters, and mysteries. Haunting Bombay flirts deliciously with the true spirit of India."--Aimee Liu, author of Flash House

After her mother's death crossing the border from Pakistan to India during Partition, baby Pinky was taken in...

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publisher
Soho Press