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I loved and admired Shauna Singh Baldwin s What The Body Remembers greatly and that really was the main reason that I persisted with this book right upto the end despite feeling frustrated with it It wasn t the only reason though I liked the two main characters, Sister Anu and Damini and the setting of the book was deeply familiar to me both in terms of geography and period Delhi and the hills of Himachal in the 1990 s as well as in the sense of the socio economic milieu of the two protago I loved and admired Shauna Singh Baldwin s What The Body Remembers greatly and that really was the main reason that I persisted with this book right upto the end despite feeling frustrated with it It wasn t the only reason though I liked the two main characters, Sister Anu and Damini and the setting of the book was deeply familiar to me both in terms of geography and period Delhi and the hills of Himachal in the 1990 s as well as in the sense of the socio economic milieu of the two protagonists lives Though I liked many parts of it I felt disappointed by the book on the whole To my mind it is over crafted, over plotted and over articulate of its central concerns sex selection, domestic violence, religious intolerance The characters and the plot are very subservient to the social message of the book Each character is a representative of a social dynamic first and a person only after that Their stories segue and dovetail into each others with a mechanical precision that is entirely unbelievable Paradoxical as it might seem good fiction cannot afford to appear so unreal, every loose end tied up, every question answered First off, a disclaimer I know Baldwin well, and she read portions of this novel in our Milwaukee writer s workshop when she wasn t traveling back and forth to India to research this project Even so, I found it difficult to put down once I started reading the finished project for the stories of the two women who are central to the novel and the insight the book offers on the many religions Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian of India and how they coexist and clash But most importantly the First off, a disclaimer I know Baldwin well, and she read portions of this novel in our Milwaukee writer s workshop when she wasn t traveling back and forth to India to research this project Even so, I found it difficult to put down once I started reading the finished project for the stories of the two women who are central to the novel and the insight the book offers on the many religions Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian of India and how they coexist and clash But most importantly the often tragic plight of women in this male dominated society is central to the plot.If the current horrific gang rape in India makes you want to knowabout the culture that spawned the horrific deed, read this book If you love well researched novels that open not only your heart, but also your eyes, read this novel Highly recommended This novel is set in India in the mid 1990s There are two major characters whose stories are told in alternating sections Damini, a Sikh Hindu, is a widowed grandmother who, after she loses her job because of the death of her long time employer, moves in with her daughter and her family Damini begins working at a health clinic Anu, a Christian Hindu, is a battered wife who leaves her husband after sending her daughter to Canada she joins a convent and works at the health clinic which also e This novel is set in India in the mid 1990s There are two major characters whose stories are told in alternating sections Damini, a Sikh Hindu, is a widowed grandmother who, after she loses her job because of the death of her long time employer, moves in with her daughter and her family Damini begins working at a health clinic Anu, a Christian Hindu, is a battered wife who leaves her husband after sending her daughter to Canada she joins a convent and works at the health clinic which also employs Damini The two work together to improve the lot of women.This book is primarily about the mis treatment of girls and women in India, a supposedly democratic country but one dominated by a patriarchal society which views females as expendable After assisting with the birth of her granddaughter, Damini wonders, What terrible deeds must this soul have done in a past life, to now be punished by taking form as a girl What will she face but suffering that leads tosuffering 236 In the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, the author mentions, Demographers estimate that 45 million baby girls were missing in India in the nineties, and 42.4 million from 2001 2008 as a result of prenatal selection Worldwide, 160 million girls are estimated missing since the 1970s Those missing girls inspired this novel 545 The novel touches not only on prenatal gender selection abortion of female fetuses , but also on infanticide of baby girls, arranged marriage, rape, and domestic violence The book is full of historical, political, and religious references which often obscure the narrative There is no doubt that the author is writing from experience and has done extensive research, but sometimes the novel readslike non fiction because it is so crammed with data The author s voice overshadows the characters stories.Another problem is that the book has much too many coincidences Damini and Anu are very different in terms of background, age, and social status, yet their lives repeatedly intersect In a country with a population of over a billion, they meet not only in New Delhi but also in a remote mountain town in northern India People who figure in the life of one character eventually feature in the life of the other For example, Amu s husband s first love is the daughter in law of Damini s employer Amu s husband also eventually employs Damini s son The list goes on and on the number of coincidences stretches credibility.In terms of characterization, the men receive short shrift Most are flat characters and all are misogynists to some extent The one liberal minded man mentioned is Anu s father and he s dead Even Anu s liberated aunt, who publically fights for women s rights, is married to a man who, despite physical evidence, wants Anu to return to her abusive husband.A further weakness is that the author uses vocabulary that would be very familiar to an Indian but not to a Western reader Terms for clothing, caste, and religious ceremonies are often not explained, so the reader is left unable to visualize what is being described A glossary would definitely have been helpful This book is worth reading because it certainly opens one s eyes to a major issue in India and other parts of the world as well , but it is unfortunate that the narrative is not allowed to speak for itself.Please check out my reader s blog and follow me on Twitter DCYakabuski Like many others, I really liked this book until I got to the second half I really had to push myself to finish the novel because it felt as though the story had already ended Baldwin s book is wonderfully written, but I can see how some may find it difficult to follow as it constantly uses references in Hindi, Punjabi and other north Indian languages As someone fluent in Hindi, I was fine, but I do think a glossary of terms would have been good for english speakers Moreover, I didn t feel a Like many others, I really liked this book until I got to the second half I really had to push myself to finish the novel because it felt as though the story had already ended Baldwin s book is wonderfully written, but I can see how some may find it difficult to follow as it constantly uses references in Hindi, Punjabi and other north Indian languages As someone fluent in Hindi, I was fine, but I do think a glossary of terms would have been good for english speakers Moreover, I didn t feel as though the translations provided any real additional value While I understand some words are difficult to translate from one language to another, or do not have an equivalent, I do not feel as though that was the case with the majority of the non English terms Baldwin used I disagree with comments that the novel is unrealistic Not that it isn t unrealistic, of course it is it s a fictional novel I just reject that as a real critique The novel is a fictional account of the lives of women in India The spiritual mystical elements work to reinforce the fact that the novel is a work of fiction readers are required to suspend their disbelief Despite the flaws, the book is a compelling read, for the first half at least, and does have some nice moments in the second half If you re into feminist ideas and literature, the novel is a good read, but I wouldn t blame you if you have trouble finishing it You don t really miss a whole lot in the end anyway To would have rated it higher, but it seemed to take on too many ideas, too many events, too many people Otherwise, it was a good read Just a really long one, with lots of explaining around few critical events. The Selector of Souls was an interesting novel that introduces people to the mentality behind gender selection in India I liked how the story was told from numerous different points of views from different castes of women.The first half of the book grabbed my attention but after that I think the story dragged a lot there was a lot of really long conversations that really didnt have much of a reason in being there The end results for all the women were not too great, the impact of all the ar The Selector of Souls was an interesting novel that introduces people to the mentality behind gender selection in India I liked how the story was told from numerous different points of views from different castes of women.The first half of the book grabbed my attention but after that I think the story dragged a lot there was a lot of really long conversations that really didnt have much of a reason in being there The end results for all the women were not too great, the impact of all the arguments battles did not seem to create that much of a victory to the women in the story.I loved how seamlessly Shauna was able to translate all her Hindi into English to stay true to the characters while allowing the readers to follow along.Overall this was an okay book that could have done with 200 less pages Read this for my Book Club Seemed to be a good book to be reading leading up to International Women s Day 2018 Because of my strong memories of Delhi, the Punjab, Kashmir in the early 70s, I like reading novels about northern India because the reads evoke memories and images, sounds and smells for me which enhances the read.I found this book to be long At 544 pages it is long, but it just felt longer than it should reading it.I also found some of the connections among the characters just too Read this for my Book Club Seemed to be a good book to be reading leading up to International Women s Day 2018 Because of my strong memories of Delhi, the Punjab, Kashmir in the early 70s, I like reading novels about northern India because the reads evoke memories and images, sounds and smells for me which enhances the read.I found this book to be long At 544 pages it is long, but it just felt longer than it should reading it.I also found some of the connections among the characters just too convenient or set up for my belief The fact that Anu and Damini recognized each other from the lawyer s office in New Delhi was a bit of a stretch for me, but okay But Damini knowing that the son born to Goldina was her grandson too much of a stretch for me.I did appreciate what I learned about Hindu and Sikh customs from the novel And the setting caused me to research online to locate the places Shimla is a real place Loved the reference to the mountain ranges and how they were so much a part of the story.Appreciate the shift across generations of women Leela saying yes to Kamna following her decision to drive her father s truck Appreciate the character of Mohan with his disability being included equally in the story with gifts to give.Appreciate the moral dilemmas, the struggle of conscience, truth telling in the novel Especially appreciate Damini s confession to the gathered villagers of her action toward Leela s baby Her courage and resolve to make a change through telling her own story.The novel really honours the story that we each have a story and the impact sharing our stories can have on each other.The importance of naming a child is very highlighted in this novel and that in the act of naming is where liberation of women can be found.This book shines a bright light on the preference for boy children in India and the buy into that preference resulting in deep suffering for women, in this life and in future lives.Very interesting focus on the role of Catholicism in the mix, notably by interactions between Sister Imaculata and Anu towards the end.The novel is at time overwhelming with perhaps too many issues and too much history and geography combined Found it hard to remember names and places as I went along Even now after reading 544 pages I have to look back to recall names like Goldina And I kept forgetting who Samuel was whenever he came up.Had planned to read What the Body Remembers when I started this novel, but now at the end am not feeling as inclined to readeven though I did like the relationship between Damini and Mem saab, whom I understand is Roop from the earlier novel.Outlined the book to better grasp the structure and found out what really bothered me as the reader the text is broken up too often by chapter or sub chapter titles that indicate place and date Also that the voice changed often from Damini to Damini or Anu to Anu so why break up the voice in those cases Once I could see the outline, I then knew what was irritating me as I read the book Remove the outline, Shauna, and let the story flow I also feel that the Epilogue is a weird add on I get that it puts Anu into the role of Selector of Souls, but it takes place 7 years after the main story does Yes, it poses an ethical dilemma, but it just feels like an add on as Epilogue.Finally, after doingresearch into the times in India in 1994 and following the context for this novel is so much clearer for me I learned that the Post Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Prohibition of Sex Selection Act in India was assented to on Sept 20 1994 and in practice Jan 1 1996 Oh, to have known that before reading the novel &Free Kindle ↯ The Selector Of Souls ↝ The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender we re in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter haunts the novelIn Shauna Singh Baldwin s enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic church When Sister Anu comes to Damini s home village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what s best for women What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within Okay, theselectorofsouls by shaunasinghbaldwin was basically an improbable plot forced around an agenda I think It was about two women from vastly different backgrounds who come together to work in women s health and experience about every possible improbability two women could face to highlight patriarchy and sex selective abortion and femicide There was a lot of running into people in multiple places and folks being attached my marriages and servants and rape and terrorism and hospitalizat Okay, theselectorofsouls by shaunasinghbaldwin was basically an improbable plot forced around an agenda I think It was about two women from vastly different backgrounds who come together to work in women s health and experience about every possible improbability two women could face to highlight patriarchy and sex selective abortion and femicide There was a lot of running into people in multiple places and folks being attached my marriages and servants and rape and terrorism and hospitalizations and so on, it was just too coincidental I felt like even Singh Baldwin herself knew she was pushing it by mentioning in the novel once of twice that the storyline wasoutrageous than a Bollywood film or that the chances of so many connections happening were stranger than fiction I really felt that what could have been a compelling story was sacrificed for the message Which was a shame It was very heavy handed and not at all nuanced The book was as well researched as whatthebodyremembers but the quality of storytelling was not there I sometimes got hooked on the soap opera ridiculousness of it, wondering what else could she possibly fit into this one book , but the story never resonated with me because it was written from a soapbox of outrage There were a few good books forced into one novel jessiereads jessiereadsalot blackgirlreading blackgirlsreading blackgirlbookclub booknerd bookstagram randomhouse vintagecanada usedbooks usedbookstore restingbookface Women in our society are still seeking equality The Me Too movement and equal pay for equal work are two issues that come to mind But, our concerns seem absolutely petty in comparison to a society where a father describes his family as one son and one mistake and no one blinks an eye The entire Indian culture seems to be stacked against women Not to mention all of the other divisive elements including caste, religion, ethnicity and wealth.The two female characters who allow us to get a real Women in our society are still seeking equality The Me Too movement and equal pay for equal work are two issues that come to mind But, our concerns seem absolutely petty in comparison to a society where a father describes his family as one son and one mistake and no one blinks an eye The entire Indian culture seems to be stacked against women Not to mention all of the other divisive elements including caste, religion, ethnicity and wealth.The two female characters who allow us to get a real look at how it felt to be living in India in the early 1990s not historical, though it feels like it are absolutely different, yet share many experiences.Damini is widowed and has been a servant helpmate for a wealthy deaf woman for many years Anu is married to a wealthy man who abuses her She has a daughter.They first meet outside a lady lawyer s office and barely register each other s presence But as their lives take on new twists and turns, these two women form an unlikely bond considering their backgrounds.The first horrifying scene when Damini takes it upon herself to do an unthinkable act for her daughter sets the tone of the tale One of the the things that surprised me, though it shouldn t have, is that even thoroughly downtrodden women still look down on other women of lower status.It is a tough read Heartbreaking throughout But well worth the effort to understand another culture and to appreciate our own