Leaving India

Leaving India

My Family's Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents

Book - 2009
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An inspiring personal saga that explores the collisions of choice and history that led one unforgettable family to become immigrants In this groundbreaking work,Minal Hajratwala mixes history,memoir, and reportage to explore the questions facing not only her own Indian family but that of every immigrant:Where did we come from?Why did we leave?
What did we give up and gain in the process?
Beginning with her great-grandfather Motiram's original flight from British-occupied India to Fiji, where he rose from tailor to department store mogul,Hajratwala follows her ancestors across the twentieth century to explain how they came to be spread across five continents and nine countries.
As she delves into the relationship between personal choice and the great historical forces--British colonialism, apartheid,Gandhi's Salt March, and American immigration policy--that helped to shape her family's experiences, Hajratwala brings to light for the very first time the story of the Indian diaspora.
This luminous narrative by a child of immigrants offers a deeply intimate look at what it means to call more than one part of the world home. Leaving India should find its place alongside Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family and Daniel Mendelsohn's The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2009.
ISBN: 9780618251292
Branch Call Number: 973.049140092 HAJ
Characteristics: xvi, 430 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm


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Jan 19, 2012

-found this genealogical narrative entrancing. What convinced me to take it out was a heartfelt and lavish endorsement by Alice Walker on the dust jacket. Although my appreciation isn't quite as unrestrained (Hajratawala's writing is occasionally contrived and precious.), her account is full of indelible, eccentric and often humorous character sketches. In addition, I learned a fair amount about the Indian and Gujarati cultures and about the subcontinental diaspora. Who knew, for instance that forty percent of the hotels and motels in the U.S. are owned by Asian Americans, most of whom come from the Indian state of Gujarat (p. 283)?

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