Friday, 18 September 2015

Finding Takri by Palo Stickland

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

Rupa was born in India but came to Glasgow as a tiny child. She has faint memories of her grandmother, Takri, ‘the only person who remembered the date I was born,’ but she grew up closer to Baba Kam – otherwise knows as Karam Singh – her mother’s childhood friend who fled India after the Amritsar Massacre in 1919.

Now, as a middle-aged woman she begins a search for the real story of Karam Singh, Basant Singh, her grandfather, and Takri, 'the woman who loved them both.'

The story shifts back and forth through the history of India – and the Punjab in particular – in the first half of the Twentieth Century, from the traditions and restrictions of life at the turn of the century, through the struggles for independence, to the beginnings of an independent nation. On the way, we spend time in the villages of rural Punjab, at the Golden Temple at Amritsar, among the dancers and prostitutes behind the Friday Mosque in Delhi, and in the Glasgow tenements where the first south Asian immigrants crowded together.

Karam and Takri are both in their way fighters. Karam goes to prison for his actions against the British colonial government. Takri is one of the first to take up the Ghandi's challenge to reject imported cloth and to start making her own 'homespun'. Basant is a gentler character, wanting only to care from his own family. But links between the three of them prove stronger than either tragedy or betrayal.

Finding Takri has at its heart a complex and tender love triangle, one that mixes friendship, loyalty, duty and the desire for independence. A revealing glimpse of a slice of Indian history, based loosely on the author's family's own journey from Punjab to Glasgow.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Liked: The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri; The Death of Shiva by Manil Suri. Until Our Blood Is Dry by Kit Habianic.

Avoid If You Dislike: 20th C Historical Fiction, stories based on family history

Perfect Accompaniment: Rice and lentil soup; tea with cardamom and cloves

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Available from Amazon

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