August Books 14) Battle for Bittora, by Anuja Chauhan

This is hilarious and amazing. Thank you so much to R for passing it on to me. It’s the story of a young woman whose political grandmother summons her back to their home town and makes her the election candidate for India’s traditional party of power; meanwhile the opposition have recruited as their candidate the chap who she always used to fancy. I’ve never been to India, but I’ve been involved with enough election campaigns to recognise the universal characteristics, and to appreciate the truth that, as our heroine says at the end of the first chapter, “The only thing worse than taking part in a Lok Sabha election is not taking part in a Lok Sabha election.” 

Some aspects of the book are new to me. Many of the characters speak in a Hinglish slang which you can usually work out from context but occasionally floored me. Also the massive amount of overt bribery on all sides in the election was new to me (though of course everyone who has fought an election knows about pushing the regulations to their limits). But the core of the story, the romance combined with dynastic dynamics and political and ethnic tension, is pretty sound.

I do hope that Harper Collins release Chauhan’s work outside the Indian market to which she has so far been restricted – not for her sake, as I am sure she does very well on home ground – but for ours. And I look forward to the film.