Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Conch Bearer
The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
It has only recently come to my attention how incredibly white washed children's literature is. At least American children's literature. Sure there are many books ABOUT other cultures and other peoples, but most of them are from a white person's point of view. Which can obviously be biased, just like how stories from ::insert other culture here::'s point of view has the potential to be biased too.
Plus, books that explain about other cultures sometimes seem forced, and insincere. Too much instructional details, too little immersion in plain old story telling.
In all my library readings since April this year, this is the first book I've found with a non-white main character, in a non-western setting. I don't know whether to be more surprised that I actually found a book like this, or that there are so few. Perhaps it's just my local library - it doesn't have the greatest selection after all.
The story goes like so: upper-middle-class Indian family finds themselves in dire economic straits. Boy works to earn money and one day finds an old man in an even more pitiful situation than himself. So the boy helps him out by giving the old man some food. And the boy finds himself entangled in magic, a secret sect, an evil villain, and his own human fallacies through temptations of power and fame.
This book is a fun read. Although I'm still not exactly sure how to pronounce "conch" (is it "con-ch" or "conk?") and would appreciate it if someone would tell me. I do find it funny that I have no qualms about pronouncing the author's name, but am hesitant about pronouncing conch.