Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Today: The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

Imagine the creation of an author who lives in Bangalore, studied at Bryn Mawr and has lived in NYC. Imagine the best of all of that: wordly observations, cunningly made with sophisticated style and an observance of an inward eye and you have an idea of what the work of Lavanya Sankaran looks like.

The Hope Factory (Dial) is the second book of the author of 2006’s The Red Carpet, a collection of fresh and fascinating stories set in Bangalore. The Hope Factory seems to pull what was best about Sankaran’s first book and set it to the music of a full-length work. The result is a stunning debut novel. Sankaran’s voice is funny, wise and wry as she weaves her way cunningly through this novel of domestic disturbance in a newly industrialized Bangalore.

Anand and Vidya are the new, modern Bangalore. Anand gives every appearance of being the successful businessman, right down to his grasping, demanding wife, Vidya.

On the other end of the comfort scale is their maid, Kamala, a woman whose life is precarious in part because of an unsuccessful marriage and a son on the verge of bad-boydom, but in another part because Kamala’s happiness depends also on her employer’s wife, and that’s not a good place for anyone to be.

Despite this interconnection, Sankaran does a skillful job of keeping the two threads distinct until the time is right and we come to understand that the ultimate connection between these characters is deeper than we might have thought.

The Hope Factory is a pleasing and delicious book and Sankaran is a writer whose gifts we anticipate enjoying further in future. ◊

Jones Atwater is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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