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.
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