Sunday, March 11, 2012

Audiobook Review: Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee

Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee, narrated by Farah Bala; length: 13 hours, 35 minutes

In Miss New India we meet Anjali Bose, a young girl born into a lower class family in the small town of Gauripur, India whose family's only goal is to get her married "well". Anjali, however, has other aspirations - thanks to an education and a teacher who believes in her, Anjali dreams of a new, independent life in Bangalore where she can work at a call center. Anjali is conflicted about leaving her home and family until a terrible encounter with the man her family has selected for her seals the deal and sends her packing to Bangalore. Once in Bangalore, Anjali meets a collection of women who have all come to the city to reinvent themselves and find success in a call center. They are jaded about the role they play in society as essentially commodities in the service of Western companies and the Indian businessmen and women who have bought into this new economy for their country. While in Bangalore, Anjali finds herself in a number of dangerous situations and continues to be unsure about the decision she made to leave home but, with a lot of help from generous benefactors, Anjali persists in finding a new life in Bangalore.  

My Thoughts

Although there are other characters in this book, the only one brought to life is Anjali and so the success of the book for the reader largely lies in their reaction to her as a character. Anjali wore on my last nerve - in theory, I should have respected her gumption in leaving her life behind and facing so many challenges in Bangalore but, although I had flashes of respect and even empathy, overall I found her to be inconsistent. She wavered between using her femininity to get what she wanted by flirting to being indignant that she was being taken advantage of by the same men she was luring with her feminine wiles. In one breath she felt insignificant and undeserving and in the next she expected her benefactors to provide for her without hesitation. This conflict is expected in a woman in transition is Anjali is following her move but for some reason in Anjali it doesn't ring true and just seems inconsistent. At times, I felt as if I was reading about two different people. Had there been a logical progression from the more insecure to the confident Anjali, it would have made sense to have those two voices, but by flitting back and forth constantly, the author lost me.

This audiobook is 13+ hours long and it could have been 4 hours shorter. The story meandered quite a bit and towards the end I stopped caring and felt the book could really be wrapped up. To be fair, I did listen to this over a long period of time so it is possible all the interruptions made me lose interest However, regardless of that, if the book had been edited better I think the story would have been more compelling and a strong storyline would have emerged.

The narrator, Farah Bala, did an excellent job with the Indian accents in the book and I liked listening to her. With so many of the characters working at call centers, different accents were very important in the book; the narrator did well with the Indian accents and the American accents but her British accent was terrible. I cringed a little bit every time I heard it.

The storyline and themes of this book had a lot of promise but, unfortunately, the execution didn't work for me.


  1. What a bummer this book didn't end up playing out as well as you had hoped because I agree, the premise sounds awesome and I do love a book set in India. Oh well, onto the next hopefully great read!

  2. I thought about this one, but the reviews did not seem too favorable. At least it was a good reader.

  3. V nice review -- I had a NetGalley ARC of this that expired before I could get to it -- but I think now that was a good thing! :/

  4. Ah well. Better luck next time I guess! :-)

  5. Great honest review darling :)
    Sad to hear it wasn't awesome 'cause you're right the story line sounds like it has a lot of promise.