My recent fascination for cross-culture/multi-culture stories led me to read quite a few books. Interestingly, only after starting this post I realised that all in my listing were written by female authors!
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Sister of my heart
A very engaging story of two girl friends almost brought up as sisters. Anju and Sudha join my unforgettable characters list. The mothers, the aunt, the early Calcutta life described are all so realistic. The sudden but deep relationship of Sudha and Ashok felt so bollywoodish and the unnecessary Sudha-Sunil angle was a dampener(especially after the cute first encounter between Anju and Sunil)! Can be made into a nice mega serial (especially because of the portrayal of Sudha's MIL!). After reading this, I went on a Chitra D. B. novels reading spree but none of them were as good as this one.
Samina Ali - Madras on rainy days
Ofcourse, it was Madras on the title which made me pick the book in the first place. Even though the story's significant turning point(supposedly, even though one can sense it all along!)happens in Madras, I was disappointed because of my expectation from the title! The story is quite unusual in the sense that it is about an American bred Indian girl getting (arranged) married to a Hyderabadi guy. Inspite of having lived in India for quarter century, the life of Hyderabadi Muslims portrayed in the story was as foreign as the life of Afghans as described in Kite Runner. Anyway, it was quite different and serious natured than I had expected.
Laura Fitzgerald - Veil of roses
The gist at the back cover got me interested in this book. It is about an Iranian woman who comes to visit her sister in the US with the intention of finding a suitor to marry and settle in the states. The story started of very interesting that I found it hard to put down the book. But as the story progressed, it began to feel like Mills and Boon novel! Tamila Soroush, the main character of the novel didn't seem to have any depth even though there were some affecting bits about Iranian life(like that of Tami's parents who send both their daughters away to the US hoping for a better life for them inspite of the fact that they would never ever get to see them or the little freedoms like music, friends, strolls that one cannot enjoy in Iran). Timepass!
Pearl Buck - The Good Earth
A pulitzer award winning novel! It is the story of a Chinese farmer in the turn of the century. I was surprised at how culturally similar Chinese life was to that of Indian. The story reminded me of old b/w melo-dramatic Indian movies! The description of the life of farmers depending on nature once again brought back the plight of our farmers and all farmers around the world!