Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee

I think I’ve found my first “treasure” of the year in Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee. I was having a hard time this past weekend. Family stuff. I needed an escape of a book, just a good little story that I could read while soaking in the tub and I had just gone to the library. I picked up this little book with a beautiful cover based on the recommendation of Lu at Regular Rumination and I will be forever grateful to her for that recommendation 🙂 Thank you Lu. I can’t tell you how much this little book cheered me up. It’s not particularly a happy book. It’s a book that deals with death, and a little 8 year old Indian boy searching for answers, for meaning, for healing. It has moments of pure joy, moments of childhood wonder, moments that bring tears to your eyes. I don’t know what it is about this book, but it’s just magical.

This is the story of an eight year old boy named Anu who lives in the US with his Indian family. Neither of his parents embrace their Indian culture. They are not practicing Hindus, they instead encourage Anu to make up his own mind about his own religion as he grows. Anu’s grandfather, who he calls Bapu, does embrace his Indian culture though and is very close to Anu. One morning while birdwatching with Anu, Bapu suffers a stroke and dies, leaving eight year old Anu a great deal of guilt that he could not do more to save his grandfather.

His grandfather appears to him a couple of times after his death and Anu becomes convinced that he can bring his grandfather back from death. He embraces the Hindu religion and particularly his Bapu’s Shiva statue in the hopes that through the religion, he can become holy enough to bring back his grandfather. He gets into trouble with his friends and is made fun of by other children along the way because of his culture and his beliefs. His parents becomes worried and he becomes obsessed.

This book is written with a careful hand. And with a caring hand. It is such a beautiful book. So beautiful that I just wanted to hug it at times. It made me laugh aloud at times. It made me tear up at the innocence of eight year old Anu. Banerjee captures it so well. This book is really just special. I don’t know what else to say about it. But I so wish everyone would read it. I want to share it with everyone and if I could buy everyone a copy I really would!

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15 Responses

  1. Yay! I’m so glad that you loved this and it was what you needed. It’s a really wonderful little book and Anu is just the best character.

  2. First reaction: ZOMG those are elephants on the cover!

    Second reaction: Hmm, the book sounds interesting, too! 😀

  3. So Lu’s review made me look it up in my library’s catalogue, and I was all pouty that it wasn’t there. But your review made me go ahead and ILL it! I’m so happy the book was so good for you!

  4. Aw, this does sound like a sweet book. Glad to hear it cheered you up. =)

    Thanks for the great review, Chris!

  5. Isn’t it great to find a wonderful little treasure just when you need it the most? I’m keeping an eye out for this one.

  6. Your review has me totally curious about this book so in order to satisfy that I am going to have to check it out from my library!

  7. Wow, thank you for this touching review, Chris. I’m honored.

  8. Isn’t it wonderful when you find a treasure? I’m so glad you did, and it seems it was especially timely. I hope all is well with your family and yourself.

  9. Lu, Anu really was just the perfect character 😀 I absolutely loved that kid! I can’t thank you enough for recommending this one to me 🙂

    Amanda, Yes yes! There are elephants! It’s such a wonderful book Amanda, I think you’d really love this one..in fact I absolutely know you would. Give it a go!!

    Eva, Yay!! So glad that you’re going to read it. It’s such a wonderful book. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Megan, It was a very sweet book. With such a strong impact. Just perfect.

    Andi, It really is just the best feeling in the world. Hope you find a copy! I think you’d really enjoy it!

    Staci, Hope your library has it! I think it’s one that everyone needs to read!

    Anjali Banerjee, Hi! Thank YOU for writing such an amazing book. I absolutely adored it. One of my favorites of the year so far and I can’t thank you enough. It came at a time that I really needed it. Can’t wait to check out the rest of your books 😀

    Carl, It’s the best feeling! I absolutely loved this one. It was timely. I’ve had issues with my dad lately. He ended up in the hospital on Friday due to his alcoholism leading to a car accident and I’ve been dealing with that ever since. And this book took my mind off of that for a couple of hours. It was really just what I needed. A little bit of comfort.

  10. I added this to my wish list when you told me about in an e-mail. We’re heading out to the bookstore today, and if I can only find one book from my list, I hope this is it! (Okay, I really hope I can find Swallow Me Whole and I Kill Giants, too…but thus far have had no luck there.) I’m so glad this one brought you such comfort at a time when lord knows you really needed it. *hugs*

  11. Ooh, I like books that deal with the possibility of reincarnation. I just love the cover too. Definitely adding to my TBR list.

  12. I would love to read this :). I have about zero experience reading anything that deals with Indian culture, or hinduism, despite finding it really interesting, and it being an influence on so many people who are so smart. 🙂 It seems like a culture we’ve marginalized in America – I know SO many smart people from South Asia, India particularly, in my work, and I hear things that, if we said them about Jews or African Americans, or almost any other culture, that we’d think of the speaker as racist and nasty. Making jokes about Indians, talking about their accents, wishing out loud they’d ‘go back to the convenience store’ is somehow okay, which is really disturbing to me…

  13. OK, you convinced me!

  14. Debi, I know you found I Kill Giants! Did you find this one too? Did You DId you???? :p It’s such a good one!!! Hope you get to read it someday 🙂

    Vivienne, Me too! I’ve flirted with the idea of reincarnation here and there throughout my life. It’s something I’d like to believe in. And truly, it’s something that makes more sense than a lot of other stuff to me. I don’t know that this book deals exactly with reincarnation, but it does deal with the spirit and it’s a beautiful book.

    Jason, Oh I think you would love this one so much!!! I’ve always had a thing for Indian culture and Hinduism. I’ve always found it fascinating. I have a collection of statues of the buddha and little Ganesha and Shiva statues…though I know it’s a very UNBuddhist thing to do to collect material possesions. I just love them so much. Their culture is just wonderful. I had a professor in grad school who was from Delhi and I learned so much about India from her. She was wonderful. She would have me over to her house and cook all kinds of amazing Indian food and before she left, she gave me a little oil lamp with Ganesha on it that I treasure. I know what you mean about the marginalization of their culture in America 😦 It really is a sad and disturbing thing. It always saddens me that people can direct so much hate to these cultures that are so beautiful.

    Ali, I’m glad I could convince you!!! It’s a wonderful book 🙂

  15. […] Banerjee, rushing to my library catalogue, and being cranky that they didn’t own a copy. Then Chris posted a glowing review, and I decided to go ahead and ILL it. I’m so glad that I did! This is a slim novel, about […]

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