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The bandit queens : a novel
2023
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Brief Descriptions

"A young Indian woman falsely rumored to have killed her husband finds a way to make her unfortunate reputation surprisingly useful--but complications arise when other village women seek her help offing their husbands--in this provocative, razor-sharp debut. "The Bandit Queens heralds a prodigious and sophisticated literary talent." Tâea Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of Inland. In the five years since her husband's disappearance, Geeta has become accustomed to a solitary life; you'd be surprised how difficult it is to make friends when your entire village believes you're a witch who murdered your husband. And since she can't convince anyone that she didn't murder him, she figures she might as well use her fearsome reputation to protect herself as a woman on her own. But when other women in the village decide that they, too, want to be "self-made" widows and rid themselves of their abusive husbands, Geeta's reputation becomes a double-edged sword--the very thing that's meant to keep her safe is now threatening everything she's built as she unwittingly becomes the go-to consultant for village husband-disposal. Unfortunately, Geeta finds that even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry, and the women find themselves caught in a web of their own making--and long-estranged friendships will have to be re-formed if they hope to make it out of their mess alive. Acerbic, insightful, and full of dark humor, Parini Shroff's The Bandit Queens--with its unique combination of poignant social commentary and irreverence--is an absolutely unforgettable novel"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Considered a “self-made” widow after the disappearance of her husband, Geeta, when other women in the village ask her for help in getting rid of their own no-good husbands, must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her fearsome reputation and the life she’s built. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • A young Indian woman finds the false rumors that she killed her husband surprisingly useful—until other women in the village start asking for her help getting rid of their own husbands—in this razor-sharp debut.

“Shroff captures the complexity of female friendship with acuity, wit, and a certain kind of magic irreverence. . . . The Bandit Queens is tender, unpredictable, and brimming with laugh-out-loud moments.”—Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die.

It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry.

Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal.

And not all of them are asking nicely.

With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built—but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village.

Filled with clever criminals, second chances, and wry and witty women, Parini Shroff’s The Bandit Queens is a razor-sharp debut of humor and heart that readers won’t soon forget. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Parini Shroff received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied under Elizabeth McCracken, Alexander Chee, and Cristina García. She is a practicing attorney and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bandit Queens is her debut novel. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Shroff's acerbic debut, a woman helps other women escape their abusive marriages in their small village in India, often through murder. Geeta's unearned reputation for having killed her physically abusive husband, Ramesh (he's not dead, he just ran off), prompts women to approach her for help. It's a fortuitous development for Geeta, who's become socially isolated after a fight with her lifelong friend Saloni, who's part of the microloan group that funds Geeta's jewelry business. As well, Geeta admires the legendary Bandit Queen, who exacted revenge on those who'd wronged her, and agrees to help a local named Farah kill her husband (Farah's first attempt backfired because she mistook hair growth pills for sleeping pills). Geeta also connects with widower Karem, a bootlegger, though not before costing him his livelihood by putting a stop to Karem's biggest buyer, Bada-Bhai (Bada-Bhai was cutting the booze with methanol and testing it on dogs, and Geeta frees the dogs). After Geeta adopts Bada-Bhai's sickest dog, whom she names Bandit, she begins allowing others into her life, including Saloni, which helps after Ramesh resurfaces. Shroff deals sharply with misogyny and abuse, describing the misery inflicted as well as its consequences in unflinching detail, and is equally unsparing in her depictions of mean-girl culture in the village. Readers are in for a razor-stuffed treat. (Jan.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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