Thursday, January 19, 2012

India Was One

Title:  India Was One
Author:  An Indian
Publication Information:  An Indian Publishing. Smashwords edition. 341 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book was delivered through Smashwords.

Favorite Quote:  "This is my country as much as yours."

India Was One is the story of what could happen if the culturally and religiously diverse parts of India threaten to come apart over these differences. The book tells this story through the love story of Jai and Kaahi, one from south India and one from north India. The book highlights some of the struggles going on in India today as caste differences, economic differences, cultural differences and other such things within this large country threaten to overshadow the fact that all these diverse populations are part of one country.

The story of Jai and Kaahi begins in India, comes to the US, travels to Europe, and then returns to India. The target audience for the book appears to individuals not familiar with Indian culture or with US culture. In the middle of the story, entire passages appear in italic print and provide descriptions and explanations much as a travel brochure would.  Sometimes, it's unclear whether the explanations are there to help the story or the story is there to provide structure to the explanations. However, the book does paint a vivid picture of Indian culture and the expatriate culture of Indians living outside of India.

The book provides a hypothetical look at what would happen if India as a country started splitting into pieces. Unfortunately, the book does not follow through. It comes to a somewhat abrupt ending, bringing into play a stereotypical, external force as the resolution. The resolution seemed too quick and too cut and dried to address the complex cultural issues that the book was highlighting. The shift in focus to external conflicts undermines the point being made about the need to unify India across the cultural divides and the need for real, tangible solutions to these challenges.

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