In An Unrestored Woman, the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 cuts a jagged path through the lives of ordinary women and men, leaving ripples of sorrow through time and space. Each couplet of stories spans the Indian subcontinent, from refugee camps and torched trains to the spacious verandas of the British Raj, and billows into the wider world. An old woman recounts the murdering of what was most precious to her, and the many small cuts that led her to that act. A girl forced into prostitution wields patience as deftly as a weapon, and manages to escape her fate. An Indian servant falls in love with his employer, and spins a twisted web of deceit.
The characters in these fearless stories stumble - occasionally towards love, more often towards survival - and find that history, above all, is their truest and greatest opponent. And what emerges, in the midst of newly erected barriers, boundaries, and nations, is a journey into the centre of the only place that matters - the human heart.
Shobha Rao moved from India to the USA at the age of seven. She won the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and is the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals, including Tincture, PMS (poemmemoirstory), Nimrod and Water~Stone Review. She lives in San Francisco.
Shobha Rao writes, with equal power, of the turmoil and tragedy of Great Events, but also the small, intimate lives of those doomed to live through them. In her vivid descriptions of other times and places, people rise above or fall beneath the wheel of history, but all have stories to tell and the wonderful Rao to tell them.
This transporting debut will linger in your mind long past the last page
Karen Joy Fowler, Booker-shortlisted author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
With a sophisticated sense of pacing and patience, the stories build on one another by focusing on how the actions of those in power affect vulnerable women and children on both sides of the divide . . . Though the characters are meticulously developed within each story, the collection as a whole examines how little power a person might have over his or her own destiny when confronted with war and international disputes. Stunning and relentless