I requested a review copy of Miss New India By Bharati Mukherjee because I was intrigued by this tale of modern India, that includes technology, social, class and gender issues into a nice love story.
Anjali Bose may be “Miss New India,” but her prospects don’t look great. Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family, Anjali lives in a backwater town and has an arranged marriage on the horizon. But her ambition, charm and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her influential English teacher, Peter Champion (an expat American). And champion her Peter does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny.
So she sets off for Bangalore, India’s fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Sex and the City and Seinfeld in order to get jobs as call-centre service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents.
It is in this high-tech city that Anjali — suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender and more — is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side, and these inherent dangers threaten Anjali’s transformation at every turn.
Bharati Mukherjee: Winner of a National Book Critic’s Circle Award, Bharati Mukherje is the author of seven novels, two story collections, and the coauthor of two books of nonfiction. She is a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.