Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
A Novel

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...a sense that a less unremitting catalogue of assaults may perhaps have produced an even more powerful story. Still, there is much to admire in Rao’s debut novel: it is a timely and harrowing portrayal of human trafficking...
-Guardian

Synopsis

“Incandescent...A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” ―Vogue

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” ―The Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.

Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.

 

About Shobha Rao

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SHOBHA RAO moved to the U.S. from India at the age of seven. She is the winner of the 2014 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, awarded by Nimrod International Journal. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook and is the recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals, including Tincture, PMS poemmemoirstory, Nimrod, and is forthcoming in Water~Stone Review and Wasafiri Magazine. She lives in San Francisco.
 
Published March 6, 2018 by Flatiron Books. 320 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Girls Burn Brighter
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Diksha Basu on May 26 2018

There is a lot of urgent, important, exciting and complex literature coming out of the subcontinent right now. Recently there have been brilliant books by Kamila Shamsie, Karan Mahajan, Sujatha Gidla, Deepti Kapoor and Neel Mukherjee, to name just a few. “Girls Burn Brighter,” unfortunately, is not one of them.

Read Full Review of Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Bethanne Patrick on Mar 09 2018

"Girls Burn Brighter" contains many scenes that will make readers seethe at the injustice against women in this world, but what they may remember long after reading is the book's sustained and elegant prose.

Read Full Review of Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Hannah Beckerman on May 13 2018

...a sense that a less unremitting catalogue of assaults may perhaps have produced an even more powerful story. Still, there is much to admire in Rao’s debut novel: it is a timely and harrowing portrayal of human trafficking...

Read Full Review of Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Reader Rating for Girls Burn Brighter
86%

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