Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

On the jacket:

With humor, intelligence, and masterly prose, Lavanya Sankaran’s debut novel brilliantly captures the vitality and danger of a newly industrialized city and how it shapes the dreams and aspirations of two very different families.
Anand is a Bangalore success story: successful, well married, rich. At least, that’s how he appears. But if his little factory is to grow, he needs land and money, and, in the New India, neither of these is easy to find.
Kamala, Anand’s family’s maid, lives perilously close to the edge of disaster. She and her clever teenage son have almost nothing, and their small hopes for self-betterment depend on the contentment of Anand’s wife: a woman to whom whims come easily.
But Kamala’s son keeps bad company, and Anand’s marriage is in trouble. The murky world where crime and land and politics meet is a dangerous place for a good man, particularly one on whom the well-being of so many depends.
Rich with irony and compassion, Lavanya Sankaran’s The Hope Factory affirms her gifts as a born storyteller with remarkable prowess, originality, and wisdom.


This is my first read by Sankaran and while I did have her first book in my t-read list, I got to read The Hope Factory first. The title as well as the book cover fascinated me. One look at the cover and one can think of various tales that can be spun off it.

The story revolves around Bangalore and two characters - Kamala and Anand. Anand is a businessman, a single father and Kamala, a poor widow, is a maid with Anand's family. Kamala lives with the sole aim of giving a proper, educated life to her son Narayan. A staunch reality of Anand's family which has everything money can buy in comparison to Kamala's family which is trying hard to make ends meet - makes The Hope Factory. What is common, is that they both want to be good parents. 

Beautifully crafted characters, a tight plot with two tales that have been intelligently inter-woven, life's complexities which we can all identify with, and human emotions are so real. The language is smooth and despite it being a thick book, it was a easy-flowing read. 

What I loved most about The Hope Factory was, that apart from being a very real tale, it was everything that we don't see in most of the recently published titles. 

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Hachette India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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