Review: A Peoples History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

“She thought she would miss it. The power, the possibilities. The bending of time. But here, in this chaos of sisters and mothers and brothers, of families lost and found. Here, in this glorious present, she doesn’t miss a thing.” 

 A People’s History of Heaven

Summary and Thoughts

Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbreakable bond.

When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.

Elegant, poetic, and vibrant, A People’s History of Heaven takes a clear-eyed look at adversity and geography and dazzles in its depiction of love and female friendship.

I breezed through this heart-warming, eloquent glimpse of five girls growing up in a small village in Bangalore. Vivid, emotional prose made this book stand out, something I especially appreciated as I usually don’t enjoy short story collections.

Subramanian describes the Bangalore village with love and honesty, the bravery of each of the girls distinct in their own narratives. Though some stories were more memorable than others, the overall execution of pacing, diction, character development, and cohesiveness was so well done, I can’t help but see this book as one of my favorites. I look forward to seeing what Subramanian writes next!

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

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