"Intricately plotted, beautifully written, HomeSpun is the story of an Indian family, and of modern India itself. Cinematic in scope and imagery, and with a dark secret at its core that keeps you racing through the pages, it is the brilliant debut of a multiply gifted writer."
- Suketu Mehta
"An elegant, serpentine story of modern India, HomeSpun is mesmerising and original. Nilita Vachani has a sure grasp of this world and her characters. Her words weave a delicate, powerful tapestry that possesses you long after the story is over. Superb tale-spinning-a beam of light in contemporary Indian fiction."
- Mira Nair
"HomeSpun is a warm, sweeping novel full of history, laughter and tears, and generations of characters that dance off the page. Nilita Vachani is a storyteller of the first order."
- Joe Sacco
"An intricately woven plot comes full circle after meandering through clever little twists and turns. Crisply written with dollops of humour…. HomeSpun is delightfully funny on some occasions and heartbreakingly sad at other times."
- The Calcutta Telegraph
"She takes some of the biggest myths we've spun around the freedom struggle, around war and around love stories, and refashions them from the inside out. Her portrait of a man whose idealism sorely tests his wife is not easily forgotten."
"As much as the story is about love, marriage and relationships, it manages a satiric portrait of the Hindi film industry while delving into issues of class, sexuality and post-colonial cultural identity."
- India Today
"Go read nilita vachani's homespun. elaborate plot, crisp prose, and a cast of strong women characters that made me smile more than a couple of times."
"HomeSpun escapes precise description, like a vivid dream that borders on the uneasy: characters you can slip into but not fathom entirely; a historical time period, the experience of which alternates between déjà vu and shocking estrangement…. where characters are governed not by the machinations of forced symbolism and academic theory, where language is not stilted in the attempt of finding 'an original voice', where speech is in the vernacular when the story needs it to be, and not necessarily translated in brackets soon after."
- First City
"HomeSpun should not be read for its storyline alone though it excels in its style of telling. As you finish reading the book, countless small incidents will keep floating in your mind. You will also appreciate the novelty of its plot design. The prose of HomeSpun is both lucid and unassuming. Once you start reading, you cannot help being carried away. In the same unpretentious tone, the writer keeps telling a fascinating tale of death, love, sex, war and broken dreams. Nilita Vachani is surely a worthy entry to the growing legion of South Asians writing in English, and as this first novel demonstrates, capable of leaving her mark on the literary scene." - Zahid Akter, The Daily Star
Publishers Weekly - The International News Source of Book Publishing,
March 10, 2008
HomeSpun Nilita Vachani. Other Press, $24.95 (376p) ISBN 978-1-59051-285-2
Told largely in retrospect, this ambitious debut by Indian émigré filmmaker Vachani is narrated by Sweta, who presides over her family history with equal parts passion and uncertainty. Born in 1958, Sweta lives with her grandparents, while her father, Ranjit “Ronu” Kalra, serves as an Indian air force pilot. The book takes its title from the khadi cloth favored by Gandhi, and it becomes a symbol of the unhappy divide between Sweta’s grandfather, a fighter for Indian independence, and her grandmother, a fashion plate. The fight for independence, WWII, border battles with Pakistan, and Vietnam permeate the novel, separating families and dividing the populace along religious and ethnic lines. Sweta darts in and out of the story as, most of the time, an inscrutable, sullen and overweight teenager. Around her swirl the stories of her grandparents’ ugly marriage, of her father’s childhood as a film star and of his first love. Most moving is the figure of Nanaji, Sweta’s grandfather, a tender man committed to principles and making the best of the hand he’s dealt. The book opens with his death and frontloads the many characters, but Nanaji and Sweta’s poignant relationship pulls the reader through manifold tragedy and serendipity. (May)