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Paperback May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India Book

ISBN: 0449906140

ISBN13: 9780449906149

May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India

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Book Overview

"The most stimulating and thought-provoking book on India in a long time..Bumiller has made India new and immediate again." THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD In a chronicle rich in diversity, detail, and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Balanced and Honest

I loved this book. The author covers a wide range of female experiences in India, from the experiences of the very poor and rural to the urban elite. She explores situations that are uniquely Indian, but is able to relate them to the universal human condition. Throughout the book she is very aware of her own perceptions and reactions to what she encounters, so the reader is given not only her report of an issue, but also the author's thought process including her own ethical dilemmas and emotions about each topic. She is able to leave the deeper questions unanswered rather than give an overly simplistic answer, and able to experience her own point of view without being judgmental. This book is about the experience of women and it has a feminist slant- it talks about ways that Indian culture could change to better meet the basic needs of its women, so readers who are looking for total neutrality are bound to be disappointed. I think that previous reviewers who complained (and panned the book) for "sensationalism" were very mistaken. The author is always respectful and never lurid or sensational. Personally i thought that overall this is a fascinating read, a well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking treatment of this subject. I have already recommended it to several friends and will continue to do so.

A sensitive, honest, well-researched report on the lives of Indian women

Elisabeth Bumiller's account of the lives of women from various walks of life, accumulated during her time spent living in India in the 1980s via interviews and friendships and augmented by the extensive reading she did on the subject before, during, and after her time in India, proved to be a "good read". It was not merely a series of personal anecdotes (lacking in broader perspectives and studies) nor did it err on the other end by being little more than a dry, academic, emotionally detached account of bride burning, dowry murders, female infanticide, the film industry of Bollywood, overpopulation, arranged marriages, domestic hardships, and the like. Instead it was a passionate and thoughtful account by a Westerner living in India who grew to love the people she met and whose research reflected the respect and curiosity she had for the women of India. Some of the reviews of this book have accused it of being "stereotypically western", "condescending", "shallow", "overgeneralized to the point of being trashy", exhibiting a "Western imperialism", "colonial mindset", or being a "stereotypical account with a liberal dose of sensationalism". I can only say that I found none of those things to be the case when I read the book. There is no doubt that the author's western background and mode of thinking provided the platform from which she observed and evaluated her experiences in India, but she went to a great deal of trouble to broaden her own impressions by consulting the people of India about the problems of India: through her friendships made in India, through numerous interviews (and follow-up interviews) with people from both city and rural areas and from different castes, through viewing of films and television, through reading various Indian magazines (e.g., India Today, Business India, etc.), various Indian newspapers (e.g., The Times of India, The Telegraph of Calcutta, Indian Express,etc.), through special reports (e.g., "Women in India: A Statistical Profile - 1988" put out by the Department of Women and Child Development via the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the Government of India), and through reading various books written by both Indian authors (e.g., Sudhir Kakir, Jawaharlal Nehru, Chidananda Das Gupta, et. al) and foreigners who had lived in India. The result is a balanced and broad view of some of the problems being faced by women in India, not a provincial, overgeneralized, condescending, stereotypical account of India. Her account is certainly not a dry, emotionally detached one but rather one in which she is actively involved. Is she opinionated? Sure: that's what keeps the book from being boring. Yet it is important to note that the author is honest and fair enough to keep this book from degenerating into a one-sided polemic. Even when she disagrees with a practice she observes (such as female infanticide) she does more than present her own opinions: she also presents the opposing viewpoints and

Great Reporting on a Fascinating Subject

Elisabeth Bumiller brings her reporter's curiousity and an open mind to a subject daunting in it vastness, and succeeds in painting a pointillist portrait of the women of India. She never pretends that she's doing exhaustive or academic work; she's simply following her nose to good stories. The result is an entertaining and informative book that spurred me to further reading about India and its women.

Incredibly Insightful and Thought Provoking

As a second generation Indian American, a true understanding of the Hindu culture my parents grew up with has not been easy to attain. Bumiller's book provided me with a key to some of the understanding I feel that I have always lacked. Reading her book took me back to my experiences travelling in India. It also provided me with great insights into the worldview of my own mother, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins that are women, although I was a little disappointed that the resilience of the women she studied was implied, but it was not explicitly stated and emphasized. Finally, her book was excellent at raising some very thought provoking questions about both the human condition and (especially) the condition of women in our world. I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in exploring these avenues of thought.

Insightful look at the lives of a variety of Indian women

Elizabeth Bumiller has written and excellent book describing the lives of a cross-section of Indian women. The book is a very easy read, due to her clear and concise writing style. The author has interviewed women from several different religions, castes, regions, and lifestyles. These interviews are supplemented with material from the Indian press and from Indian policymakers.
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