March 29, 2013

The Hope Factory - review


The Hope Factory
by Lavanya Sankaran
to be published April 23, 2013
Publisher:  Random House
source:  publisher

India - a country with extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  Bangalore - occupations are outsourcing and manufacturing.

The author, Sankaran, lives in Bangalore.  She writes of what she knows and brings it close to us.   Her book focuses on two main characters and their vastly different lives.

 Anand K. Murthy owns Cauvery Auto, a factory that makes auto parts.  He is preparing for an important meeting with international buyers;  if his factory wins the order, everyone's lives will be transformed.

Kamala is a maid who is in Anand's family.  She has never been in a car but watches proudly when the owner drives by.   Kamala lived in a very dusty construction site with her young son, Narayan.  When Narayan was two-and-a-half, Kamala gave him his first full body bath, bathed herself, and got a job as a maid.    Her goal is for Narayan to have a good education, learn English, and have an office job with a computer.  Narayan, now age 12, has found a way to earn as much money as she does each month.   

The writing is lovely;  the characters are well described.  For a change, this is a book about India which does not focus on arranged marriages or Americans coming back home to India.   

I had to write down the names of the characters, however, beginning with  Anand K. Murthy and Mr. Ananthamurthy, the operations manager of his factory.  It did become confusing with other similar names.  I recommend you do the same.

I'm now going to my favorite Indian restaurant for some lunch, and will ponder on Anand and Kamala and their families.