Reviews

“Gold Diggers” Explores Stolen Ambition and Going Off Script

April 21, 2021

Sanjena Sathian’s novel Gold Diggers is concerned with conventional paths to success, and the possibilities that arise when we break from them. We meet the narrator, Neil Narayan, at a high school dance, where he sees dancing as a prescribed activity, a script. “I depended on scripts,” he thinks, “in those days before anyone asked … Read More

Sharon Bala Warns Against Collective Amnesia in “The Boat People”

February 8, 2021

Sharon Bala’s The Boat People tells a nuanced tale of migration. Inspired by real events , the novel follows Mahindan, a Tamil asylum-seeker who flees persecution amidst civil war Sri Lanka, only to find himself facing deportation by the Canadian government for suspected ties to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). A multi-narrative work, … Read More

The Entertainment Value of Arranged Marriage

August 27, 2020

Everyone has an opinion about Netflix’s reality dating-cum-wedding show Indian Matchmaking, which follows a handful of singles in India and America as they attempt to find their life partners through an Indian matchmaking service run by “master matchmaker” Sima Taparia. The end goal is a lavish Hindu wedding. The show has been rightly criticized for … Read More

“A Burning” Is a Political Thriller With a Social Conscience

August 26, 2020

Megha Majumdar’s A Burning, set in and around Kolkata, couldn’t be more topical. Moving with the inevitability of parable, it lacerates the Hindu right-wing by following violence until it reaches its logical endpoint. In A Burning, Jivan, a young Muslim woman, is thrown into jail for her alleged role in a terror attack. Lovely, a … Read More

The Multicultural Bubble of Bollywood’s Qawwalis

August 14, 2020

Since the 1940s, the beginning of the Golden Age of Hindi cinema, the Sufi song form of qawwali has been a prominent feature in Bollywood film. Due to the rich sociocultural and religious history of qawwali in the subcontinent, it is easy, even for South Asians, to picture the qawwali as a solely Islamic sacred … Read More

Good Boys by Megan Fernandes Breaks Open the Shoulds

August 6, 2020

As a book of poetry, Megan Fernandes’ Good Boys presents a prescriptive examination of the self. But as a body with life in it, it shatters what is known by intentionally moving through its own tempers. What does it mean to be good, and who assigns this meaning? In all its messiness, Good Boys lays … Read More

Axone and the Politics of “Kuch Nahin Hota”

July 20, 2020

Released on Netflix last month, Naga filmmaker Nicholas Kharkongor’s Axone (2019) is the first mainstream Hindi movie to address the racism that northeastern migrants face in the Indian capital of New Delhi. Despite its meticulous attention to varying shades of discrimination, the movie betrays itself through a dangerous attitude of “kuch nahin hota” , or … Read More

Dilruba Ahmed Reaches for the Beyond In “Bring Now the Angels”

May 20, 2020

The title Bring Now the Angels is as much a God-like order as a human plea. Dilruba Ahmed’s new book-slash-summoning-slash-prayer reckons with expanse as painstakingly as it does limitation. Throughout, it takes on health, mortality, and immigration with disquieting force. The first section of Bring Now the Angels considers the circumstances surrounding the passing of … Read More

Who’s Ready to Be a Nazranaa Bride?

May 18, 2020

Nestled in a strip mall in Woodbridge, New Jersey, is Nazranaa – the go-to store for South Asian wedding wear. Behind the counter stands Shia Gupta, the owner and designer of the shop, and the face of the popular YouTube series Nazranaa Diaries. Mimicking the style of Say Yes to the Dress, complete with clunky … Read More

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