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The Milk Lady of Bangalore:
An Unexpected Adventure
By Shoba Narayan
A Barnes & Noble Spring 2018 Discover Selection
“At once sincere and laugh-out-loud funny, this memoir chronicles a genuine bond between two remarkable women that transcends class, culture, and privilege. In this beautiful examination of the differences between Eastern and Western cultures as told through the eyes of a writer who is uniquely qualified to comment on both, Narayan’s rich and evocative writing transports readers to the busy streets of Bangalore and a fully formed picture of modern India that includes cow urine tablets, bus crashes, and many different kinds of milk. A witty and tender story that endears readers to Indian culture and one of their most sacred symbols, the cow.”
“Filled with the vivid colors, sights, and sounds of a vibrant and ancient culture, Narayan’s in-depth treatment of cow mythology is a beautiful ode to her motherland.”
“Shoba Narayan offers a surprisingly fresh understanding of everyday life in the land of the sacred cow, overflowing with the daily contradictions and ironies that India so richly offers up to the discerning eye, in a wonderfully eloquent generational saga, intertwined with milk, dung and Uber.”
—Raju Narisetti, CEO, Gizmodo, and former managing editor of The Washington Post
“The relationship that forms between Shoba Narayan and her milk lady is wildly funny, and completely real. It’s so rare to find friendships like this that cut across class.”
—Arun Venugopal, host and reporter at WNYC
“Narayan imparts well-researched, intriguing, and sometimes humorous facts about the complex role of cows in Indian culture.”
—New York Journal of Books
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When journalist Shoba Narayan moved back home to India after living in Manhattan for many years, the last thing she expected to see in her modern high-rise apartment building was a cow in the elevator. But there it stood—angled awkwardly in the small space and tethered to its owner, Sarala, the milk lady.
After this surprising encounter, Narayan’s life becomes one adventure after another as she and Sarala, now an unexpected friend and wise mentor, set off on a quest to buy a new milk cow. The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure (Algonquin Books, $24.95, publication date: January 23, 2018) is the fun and moving true story of how two strong women from very different backgrounds bond over not only cows, but also family, food, and life.
An award-winning author whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others, Shoba Narayan lived in the United States for twenty years before moving back to India. In Bangalore (now formally called Bengaluru), she found a city where five thousand years of tradition meet 21st century modernity.
With Sarala’s guidance, Narayan comes to appreciate the cow as a cultural touchstone to understanding food, politics, economics, spirituality, and class. “Think of India and certain images come to mind,” Narayan writes. “Spicy food, sprawling slums, saris, gorgeously colored fabrics, beggars in street corners, Bollywood music, bazaars, tigers, elephants, color, chaos, traffic, and the Taj Mahal. There is one Indian icon, however, that hasn’t been explored very much. It is obvious and unseen. It plays into the global food debate about nutrition and what to eat. It is a beloved animal, and the source of what we give our children every morning. It is, of course, the cow.”
In the same vein as Sy Montgomery’s The Good Good Pig, The Milk Lady of Bangalore explores the ways in which an animal can remind us of what makes us most human—our faith, our culture, and our relationships. And much like Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, this universal story of bridging cultural divides sheds light on the myriad ways of looking at the world.
About Shoba Narayan
Shoba Narayan writes about food, travel, fashion, art, and culture for many publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Town & Country, Food & Wine, Saveur, Newsweek, and House Beautiful. She writes a weekly column for Mint Lounge, an Indian business daily, which is affiliated with The Wall Street Journal. Her commentaries have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. Narayan is the author of Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes, and her essay “The God of Small Feasts” won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. Visit shobanarayan.com.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure
By Shoba Narayan
On sale January 23, 2018
272 pages • 5.5 x 8.25 in.
www.Algonquin.com | shobanarayan.com
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