When the rags-to-riches hit movie Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars in 2009, a Kolkata journalist was tasked with tracking down Lakshmi, a young girl from Sonagachi who had been part of an award-winning documentary about sex workers and their children. When the journalist finally tracked down the elusive Lakshmi, she was surprised to see how much the young girl had changed. Lakshmi, now called Anjali, was a high-class escort—astute, beautiful and ambitious, she had found peace with her place in the world. As the journalist slowly got to know Lakshmi, she found out more about her mother and grandmother and the circumstances that had brought them into the brothels of Kolkata’s red-light district. The poignant chronicle of three generations of sex workers—Saraju, Malati and Lakshmi— takes us from a village in Bangladesh to a refugee camp in India in the years before the Bangladesh War to the murky alleys of Sonagachi to the posh Salt Lake area in Kolkata. At the heart of this compelling narrative is Lakshmi’s tenacious struggle to lift herself out of the squalor and unpredictability of Sonagachi’s brothels to find power and stability in her life.
KEY SELLING POINTS
- Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey’s brilliant debut novel is based on the gritty realities of life in Kolkata’s most notorious red-light district.
- The book charts decades of the three protagonists’ lives—from Bengal’s refugee camps before the Bangladesh War, the squalor of Sonagachi to Kolkata’s posh Salt Lake area.
- She is an experienced journalist of over two decades who has covered human interest stories from Sonagachi as well as other parts of Kolkata.
- She is a respected translator of Bengali to English and vice versa.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey has been a journalist for twenty-four years. She started her career with The Statesman and later joined the Times of India. Since 2007 she has been writing both fiction and non-fiction in English and Bengali. She also translates from both languages.