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Ten Avatars, by Shahana Dattagupta
Paperback, 150 pages, March 29, 2010

TenAvatarsTen avatars of woman are explored through the telling of little incidents and big turning points in the lives of female protagonists: a little child amidst parental dissonance, a girl at puberty becoming vulnerable to predators, a cynical teenager struggling with her national identity, a young graduate student returning to travel in her native land, an arrange-married wife striving for independence after emigrating, a single woman seeing the reflection of herself in a white man, a first-time mother struggling with motherhood away from home, a divorced woman reinventing herself in foreign land, an early-forties woman embracing the truth of her sexuality, and a woman in her twilight years reflecting back. This collection of stories weaves together intimate cross-cultural experiences, with variegated vignettes unique to the Indian-American expatriate experience in contemporary times, yet reveals the universal essence of being female.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reader Testimonials:

"I could not put this book down and was like a child opening Christmas presents to see what is hidden in the next one! Shahana has a wonderful fluid writing style, like a well orchestrated symphony with no jarring sounds. Her stories are poignant, funny, nostalgic, introspective, moving and above all written with so much heart. I am looking forward to the next book with bated anticipation from the talented pen of Shahana!" - S.K, Hyderabad, India

"Very poignantly written, I found a little bit of myself, or others I identify with in every story. Be it a child's voice talking about family discord or abuse, be it an old woman talking about the discovery and exploration of her sexuality, or be it a young woman dealing with divorce and loneliness in a foreign country, Shahana's beautiful writing takes you through the journey of different voices, different moods, and experiences very unique to each of us. Once you start reading, you will find yourself engrossed, page after page, story after story taking you through a different phase and hence a different challenge of life. The reader goes through a gamut of emotions enriched all themore by the cross-cultural experience, a challenge everyone getting used to the ways of the foreign land identifies with. Through different characters and settings, Shahana's writing evokes rich visuals. Amidst the diversity of her stories, she establishes that no matter what part of the world or what stage of life one is in, everyone of us invariably go through the same emotions of love, grief, pain, joy, fear, separation, estrangement, loneliness, and discovery of the self." - D.C., North Carolina, USA

"Ten Avatars by Shahana Dattagupta is brilliant. I read the book from beginning to end in one stretch. All the stories are very touching and insightful. Shahana takes the reader through many different emotions in every story. She makes the reader aware of the human flaws and failings without any judgment. It takes a lot of courage to write something so heart wrenching. Shahana has proved in her first book itself that not only is she courageous, but very insightful and empathetic.
"Ten Avatars" is a must read."
- S.S., Seattle, USA

"Ten Avatars by Shahana is an amazing depiction of women psychology, emotions and thought process. Could not believe that words could be put so beautifully... Highly recommended for readers at all levels. I tell you, each of us would relate to one or more of the characters / Avatars...Perhaps some of us have been in the same shoes... some where... some time...This book seems to have captured stories, which speak life...in its natural flavor." - A.P., California, USA

"In the past two weeks taking the bus to work and back home, I was completely immersed in reading Ten Avatars. The stories made me smile, cry, think, hope... They brought out these feelings of nostalgia even in places she wrote about like Paris I have never traveled to. Every women had some part of her that I could relate to. I honestly started to pace myself towards the end of the book and read quite slowly because I just didn't want the experience to end! These stories are beautiful; from the nuanced daily events we face to the heart-wrenching moments. Shahana captures it all and so prolifically; giving a voice to diasporic South Asian women. I can't wait till the next book!" - S.J., Seattle, USA

"Ten Avatars by Shahana Dattagupta is a 150 pageful of delight! Attracted by its front cover, once I started reading it, to my amazement, I could not put it down till I turned the last page over!...Shahana's language is almost unedited free-flowing, the cross-cultural contexts are rich and fascinating, the canvas of the stories is painted with words -- with vivid and often witty descriptions of situations, and the characters in her stories seem all familiar in their essentially human failings and essentially human, reassuring resurrections. Shahana's canvas is sometimes rather large for a short story, but in the true spirit of a short story, there is always a main "event" dragging the reader through its progression, often to an open end, which is then left to the reader's imagination." - R.G., New Delhi, India

"This collection of tales is engrossing, inspiring and a wonderful experience of living art. Thanks to Shahana for bringing them into the world. She has shown great courage in going to places that wrench the heart. Already I want the next installment! Also, Shahana offers inspiration to other artists whose stories are still brewing beneath the surface. It's important to share experiences so that we may learn from each other. As difficult and painful as life's lessons are, expressing them through art gives us a chance to understand them as part of our universal humanity. Each story is distinctly lovely." - B.D., Seattle, USA