The tale of a family torn apart
Excess Baggage, debut novel by Chinese-American writer Karen Ma, is remarkably gripping, taking the readers through the journey of a Chinese family torn apart during the Chinese revolution. The novel is based on the author’s family’s journey as Chinese immigrants living in Japan. Set in Tokyo, the novel finds at its epicentre, two Chinese sisters — one raised in Communist China, the other in Japan, during the tumultuous era of 1980-90s. The sisters, torn apart in childhood during the great Chinese exodus wherein the parents flee the country and go to Hong Kong, only with their new-born girlchild as per Hong Kong’s mandate, leaving behind their elder daughter) reunite as adults in the early ’90s. Hidden secrets of a dysfunctional family in the throes of socio-political changes come to surface, and identity of “home” is explored extensively. This is Chinese diaspora writing at its best, bringing seminal issues of dislocation and identity to the fore, with a strong urge for closure.
Title: Excess Baggage; Author: Karen Ma
Publisher: China Books, San Francisco
Price: `932 Vibha Kumar
A collector’s item
This two-volume set by Planning Commission member, Narendra Jadhav, is a comprehensive collection of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s writings. Beautifully produced, they cover his reflections on politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, religion, law and constitution, for an understanding of his thought process. For each contribution, the overall context is stated, followed by a short summary and then a full summary. This is the first time that his writings have been put forth in such an organised format. What is striking is that much of what he says finds resonance even today.
Title: Ambedkar Writes (Two Volumes: Political writings and Scholarly writings)
Editor: Narendra Jadhav
Publisher: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd
Price: `3,000 for a set of two books