Motiba’s Tattoos / Mira Kamdar

Motiba’s Tattoos by Mira Kamdar

I’m sure there’s another copy of my review of this book lurking somewhere, but I simply can’t seem to find it, so here I go again.

Mira Kamdar, the author, was born to a Gujarathi Jain father and all American (blue eyes, blond hair) mother whose grandparents emigrated to the US from Sweden (I think). So, as with most authors who’ve not really grown up in India, she paints a general picture of India and Indians only as someone who’s doesn’t “get it” can. Her style reminded me of Arundhati Roy, whose Booker prize winning novel “The God of Small Things” is something I thought was totally awful. Note to self, avoid Booker prize winning novels. Okay, that’s a bit extreme – just avoid Arundhati Roy’s writings.

The book starts out as the title suggests as being about her maternal grandmother, but soon derails into a mishmash of stories about a few relevant and many irrelevant characters. Details to the point of distraction about personalities and places (Kathiawar, Burma and Bombay) are at a minimum tangential to the subject at hand and often do not involve Motiba at all.

I suspect the author’s started out trying to understand for herself and to describe Motiba’s world to us, but found herself inadequate to the task. So, she settled for an extended family history which includes some rather inappropriate whining about her father towards the end. I can understand and perhaps even sympathize with the angst that the author went through with her “family not being like others” and not fitting in with the rest of the folks, but I’m not sure that warrants the bitterness on display towards her father in a public forum.

Here’s a more favorable review of the book by Nandini Pandya of Desijournal.

Verdict: Give it a miss. There are better reads out there.

I have chosen to stay and fight / Margaret Cho

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Having watched a tiny bit of Margaret Cho’s comedy in my distant past (my early days in the USA, a decade ago or so), I picked up “I have chosen to stay and fight” when I chanced upon it in the library.

I wasn’t able to get past more than about 30 pages of it. It was a mishmash of incoherent rambling about gender / race bigotry as experienced by Cho. Cho’s ranting sounds like that of a teenager – lacking any firm foundation; primarily aimed at spewing vitriol at those with an opposing view. The end result is that Cho sounds no different than any bigot she’s attacking in her book.

Verdict: Avoid.