A People's History of Heaven (Hardcover)
Algonquin Books, 9781616207588, 304pp.
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
A politically driven graffiti artist. A transgender Christian convert. A blind girl who loves to dance. A queer daughter of a hijabi union leader. These are some of the young women who live in a Bangalore slum known as Heaven, young women whom readers will come to love in the moving, atmospheric, and deeply inspiring debut, A People's History of Heaven.
Welcome to Heaven, a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore, one of India's fastest-growing cities. In Heaven, you will come to know a community of people living hand-to-mouth and constantly struggling against the city government who wants to bulldoze their homes and build yet more glass high-rises. These families, men and women, young and old, gladly support one another, sharing whatever they can.
A People's History of Heaven centers on five best friends, girls who go to school together, a diverse group who love and accept one another unconditionally, pulling one another through crises and providing emotional, physical, and financial support. Together they wage war on the bulldozers that would bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that does not care what happens to them.
This is a story about geography, history, and strength, about love and friendship, about fighting for the people and places we love--even if no one else knows they exist. Elegant, poetic, bursting with color, Mathangi Subramanian's novel is a moving and celebratory story of girls on the cusp of adulthood who find joy just in the basic act of living.
About the Author
Mathangi Subramanian is an award-winning Indian American writer, author, and educator. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Teachers College of Columbia University, and the recipient of a Fulbright as well as other fellowships. Her writing has previously appeared in the Washington Post, Quartz, Al Jazeera America, and elsewhere. This is her first work of literary fiction.
Praise For A People's History of Heaven…
“How can a novel about a group of daughters and mothers on the verge of losing their homes in a Bangalore slum be one of the most joyful and exuberant books I’ve read? Subramanian writes without a shred of didacticism or pity, skillfully upending expectations and fiercely illuminating her characters’ strength, intelligence, and passionate empathy. A People’s History of Heaven should be a case study in how to write political fiction. Each page delighted and amazed me.”
—Heather Abel, author of The Optimistic Decade
“It has the heart-on-its-sleeve melodrama of some of the most successful teen novels and films, though it will likely also appeal to adults wanting to tuck in to a novel which is like the brainy big sister of a Lifetime movie. A girl power-fueled story that examines some dark social issues with a light . . . touch.”
“What a thrill to read a novel as daring and urgent as A People’s History of Heaven. It’s a story about defiance in the face of erasure, about the survival tactics of an unforgettable group of girls. I can’t remember the last time I encountered a voice of such moral ferocity and compassion.”
—Tania James, author of The Tusk That Did the Damage
“Everything about A People’s History of Heaven is wonderful: the lyrical, light touch of the narrator, the story, the humor, and most of all, the girls. This novel—as shiny and crinkly and heartbreaking as ‘cellophane the color of false promises’—overflows with girls I want to meet, befriend, celebrate, and shelter from the ills of their world. But they don't need me to do that! Faced with bigotry and bulldozers, these girls know exactly what to do: stick together and help each other learn, love, see, fight. These are girls who ache, girls who build, girls who claim or escape girl-ness. Read about Banu, Deepa, Joy, Rukshana, Padma, and Leela: These are girls who save the world.”
—Minal Hajratwala, award-winning author of Leaving India