The Girl with the Golden Parasol, written by Uday Prakash and translated from Hindi to English by Jason Grunebaum, tells the story of Rahul, a university student. Rahul has returned to university with the goal of obtaining a master’s degree in anthropology. After meeting and falling in love with fellow student Anjali, the girl with the golden parasol, Rahul wheedles his way into the Hindi department, where Anjali is also a student. Soon their affection for each other is revealed and the two fall in love.
However, The Girl with the Golden Parasol is much more than just a love story. When Rahul fell in love with Anjali, he fell in love with a Brahmin, and when he entered the Hindi department, he became one of the few non-Brahmin students in the entire department. Being of a lower caste than the Brahmins, Rahul’s experiences remark upon the 3,000-year-old Hindu caste system that still holds influence over India. All of Rahul’s teachers are Brahmin, the assigned texts are from Brahmin authors, and Brahmins have a hold over the field and the university. Outside the university, policemen, journalists, and even the postmen are corrupt. For money they turn a blind eye to victims of abuse and theft, report false facts and tell the “goondas” which students of lower castes are best to steal from. However, Brahmins are not the only ones to hold prejudices against another caste. Rahul himself holds prejudices against the Brahmins, claiming he knows what “a true Brahamist” is and being utterly surprised when they help him win a school election.
In addition to remarking on caste, The Girl with the Golden Parasol also comments on the effects of globalization on India. Throughout the book Rahul mentions the continued globalization of the world around him. Pepsi, Coke, pizza, burgers, beauty pageants, the lottery, liquor, which lead to crime, rape, prostitution, money laundering and more. Globalization is shown to bring about as much corruption as the caste system.
In The Girl with the Golden Parasol the issues of caste, globalization, and corruption are intertwined with a love story, creating a novel that offers insight into a complex culture. Jason Grunebaum’s seamless translation offers The Girl with the Golden Parasol to English readers for the first time.
The Girl with the Golden Parasol is part of the Margellos World Republic of Letters series which identifies works of cultural and artistic significance previously overlooked by translators and publishers, canonical works of literature and philosophy needing new translations, as well as important contemporary authors whose work has not yet been translated into English. The series is designed to bring to the English-speaking world leading poets, novelists, essayists, philosophers, and playwrights from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, to stimulate international discourse and creative exchange. Learn more at www.worldrepublicofletters.org.