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BOOK OF THE MONTH
ASTERIX AND THE CHARIOT RACE 37
Jean-Yves Ferri
499

Asterix and the Chariot Race: the title of the...(+)

Author Spotlight
John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. After graduating from law school ...(+)
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Coolie Woman
Gaiutra Bahadur

Classification : Biography & Memoir
Pub Date : Oct 15, 2013
Imprint : Hachette India
Page Extent : 312
Binding : HB
ISBN : 9789350096352
Price : 599

About the book

In 1903, a young woman sailed from India to Guiana as a 'coolie' - the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the newly emancipated slaves on sugar plantations all around the world. Pregnant and traveling alone, this woman, like so many of the indentured, disappeared into history. Now, in Coolie Woman, her great-granddaughter Gaiutra Bahadur embarks on a journey into the past to find her. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother's story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other coolie women, shining a light on their complex lives.

Many of these women were widows, runaways, or outcasts. Many fled mistreatment, even mortal danger, to migrate alone in epic sea voyages - traumatic 'middle passages' - only to face a life of hard labour, dismal living conditions, and, most notably, sexual exploitation. As Bahadur explains, however, it is precisely their sexuality that makes coolie women stand out as figures in history. In a borderland between freedom and slavery - and because these women were so greatly outnumbered by men - sex made them victims at the same time that it gave them sway. And it was a source, at times, of tremendous conflict, from machete murders to entire uprisings.

Examining this and many other facets of these courageous women's lives, Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora - from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to the United States in the next - that is at once a search for one's roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity.

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Gaiutra Bahadur
Gaiutra Bahadur is a journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Her reporting, criticism and essays have appeared in the New York Times Boo...(+)
Books by Gaiutra Bahadur
Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (PB)