Sisterhood of Swans


Author: Selma Carvalho

9789354470318 | Hardcover | pp. 172 | 2021 | Speaking Tiger

Sisterhood of Swans, the debut fiction novel by UK-based British Indian writer Selma Carvalho, dwells on the changing British Asian identity, single motherhood, and women’s sexuality in an urban landscape.

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Anna-Marie Souza lives in Horton, a suburb on the hem of London, a far cry from the city of Bombay from which her parents had arrived one cold December day in 1989, two Goans in search of a new life. Born in this land of their dreams, raised in a broken home, Anna-Marie has grown up into a state of constant and indefinable yearning. She belongs to the sisterhood of swans seeking to pair for life, curving their necks to entwine with the perfect mate. Only, she has realized, her species is fated to disappointment. Her disastrous choice in men is fuelled not just by a chaotic childhood but by a loss of sexual agency as she embarks on a series of doomed relationships.

Set against a cast of intriguing female characters—Anna-Marie’s Indian-hating Indian mother; her best mate, Sujata, haunted by thoughts of suicide; and Jassie, the sharp-tongued beautician at Bollywood Style Salon—is an ensemble of men who are serial philanderers or, worse still, token brown Conservative party members. In this shaky world, Anna-Marie navigates through the pain of a troubled coming of age, while trying to find her place as a second-generation Indian immigrant.

Although Sisterhood of Swans is a book of fiction, it is an observation of the changing face of British-Asian identity and looks at the many ways British-Asians come to belong to a nation. It also moves Goan characters outside of the ‘casa grande’ and the parochial village, where traditionally Goan literature has tended to pivot, and reinvents them in the diaspora thrusting them into a new literary modernity.


Selma Carvalho




Speaking Tiger





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About the Author

Selma Carvalho is a British-Asian writer and the author of three non-fiction books documenting the Goan presence in colonial East Africa. She led the Oral Histories of British-Goans Project (2011-2014) funded by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund. Her short fiction, in English and in Portuguese translation, has been published in various journals and anthologies published by Comma Press and Kingston University Press, among others. Her work has been shortlisted for several literary prizes, notably the London Short Story Prize, the Dinesh Allirajah Prize and the New Asian Writing Prize. She is the winner of the Leicester Writes Prize 2018 and her collection of short stories was a finalist for the prestigious SI Leeds Literary Prize 2018. Sisterhood of Swans is her debut novel and was shortlisted for the Mslexia Novella Prize 2018 in the UK.


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