Author Sonali Dev’s new novel is an Indian twist on Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Sonali Dev’s newest book, “Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors,” is an Indian take on Jane Austen’s classic, “Pride and Prejudice.”

In the 300-room Sagar Mahal, the Ocean Palace built by her great-times-four grandfather on the Arabian Sea, 13-year-old Trisha Raje is coached by her father not to be overwhelmed by the sorrow she sees at a school for the blind but instead find a solution, so she doesn’t feel badly.

And so, she does. Before long, Trisha has created a global charity that performs eye surgeries on the needy and then becomes San Francisco’s premier neurosurgeon, a woman with immense skill but so lacking in social graces that many in her family are not talking to her, as she once inadvertently jeopardized her older brother’s fast-track political career.

But that isn’t Trisha’s only difficulty in Sonali Dev’s newest book, “Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors,” an Indian take on Jane Austen’s classic, “Pride and Prejudice.”

Dev switches up the focus between Trisha and DJ Caine, a rising-star chef whose cancer-stricken sister is a patient of Trisha’s. Trisha is a descendent of Indian Royalty, while Caine, a Rwandan/Anglo-Indian, belongs to a much lower social class — the classic Austen-style mismatch.

To paraphrase Austen, Dev writes, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian-American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep,” and the book reflects classic Austen, with its subtle ironic humor and the structured setting required in any well-to-do aristocratic English or Indian milieu.

Trisha has broken the three ironclad rules of her family: Never trust an outsider, never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations and never, ever, defy your family.

Trisha must cope with falling in love with Caine, saving his sister and ensuring that she will not somehow disgrace her family again.

Dev, who is married with two teenagers and lives in Naperville, says she’s been entranced with Jane Austen’s book since watching the Indian TV adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” called “Trishna,” in the 1980s when she was a middle-schooler.

“I went straight to the library and checked out “Pride and Prejudice” and read it over and over,” she says.

As for writing, Dev says she wrote before she could even read, making up stories and characters, noting she wrote and acted in her first play when she was 8. “Writing has always been with me,” she says.

She grew up in Mumbai though the family traveled a lot as her father was in the military.

“I was always the new kid on the block with a book,” she says.

She continues to read and write at an amazing speed.

“I am in fact waiting to get the edits back for my new book,” she says, noting that writing is an escape, a way of putting yourself in the shoes of someone not like you.

Virtual Book Event: Ask Me Anything with True Crime Authors

Log on to Reddit on Saturday August 22nd at 4:30 p.m. for “Ask Me Anything with True Crime Authors,” featuring four best selling authors who will be answering your questions live!

Submit your question about writing, work, real-life crimes, cover-ups, covert operations, all-time favorite snacks, and anything in between and read through responses as the authors write them!

Registrants will receive a direct link to the Ask Me Anything hosted on Reddit.com; in order to ask a question, please note you will need access to a free Reddit account.

This text-only event will be hosted on a specific Reddit page. You can access this event by clicking the orange “GO TO ONLINE EVENT PAGE” button in your Eventbrite email confirmation or by following the direct link that will be shared via email about 10 minutes before scheduled start time.

Visit BookYourSummerLive.com for more information!

Maureen Callahan, author of American Predator, is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New YorkSpin, and the New York Post, where she is currently critic-at-large. She lives in New York.

Amaryllis Fox, author of Life Undercover, had a CIA career in the field and now covers current events and offered analysis for CNN, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and other global news outlets. She speaks at events and universities around the world on the topic of peacemaking. She is the co-host of History Channel’s series American Ripper and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Dr. Lee Mellor Ph.D. is a criminologist, lecturer, musician, and the author of seven books on crime including Behind the Horror. He received his doctorate from Montreal’s Concordia University after specializing in abnormal homicide and sex crimes. As the chair of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases’ academic committee, he has consulted with police on cold cases in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, and London, Ontario. He resides in Ontario, Canada.

Ariel Sabar, is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is the author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also authored Veritas: A Harvard Professor, A Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.

Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity

A force of nature in her time, stage actress Charlotte Cushman who played both male and
female roles, was friends with Abraham Lincoln who admired her work. Indeed, she acted along side both Edwin and John Wilkes Booth and was said to have left a scar on the assassin’s neck that was later used to identify him as the president’s murderer.

Tana Wojczuk by Beowulf Sheehan

Cushman was 58-years-old when on November 7, 1874 she gave her last performance in front of
thousands of fans in New York City. There should have been much to remember her by. She is Angel of Waters on top of Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain designed by her lover Emma Stebbins. This is no ordinary sculpture, Cushman soars above what is, at twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide, one of New York’s largest fountains. But that was the kind of woman she was. She acted for more than 30 years traveling the world to appear on stage and it was publicly well-known that her lovers were female. Yet for some reason she slips from sight, almost lost to history until now, almost 160 years later, her vibrant life is captured in Tana Wojczuk’s new biography, Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity.

Angel of Waters (Wikimedia Commons)

Wojczuk, a senior nonfiction editor at Guernica who teaches writing at New York University, first
became aware of Cushman when she was an aspiring actress, a passion she pursued starting at age
thirteen, and continued through college.

“Women often played men in the 18th and 19th centuries,” says Wojczuk who came across
Cushman’s name while researching women who had played Hamlet. “Most cross-dressing onstage was for comic effect or to titillate men who liked to ogle a woman’s legs. But Charlotte was a convincing man onstage. When I found out that she had also been one of the most famous women in the world I wanted to know why, and, like in a detective novel, to account for her disappearance.”

Charlotte Cushman. Wikimedia Commons

Cushman aimed for realism so much so that, according to Wojczuk, she was a pioneer of
method acting, visiting prostitutes in Five Points and exchanging clothes with them to prepare to
play a prostitute.

Reading fascinating books like this makes you wonder how many fascinating women—and
men—have vanished into the mists of time. Why, I wonder? ojczuk has a surprising answer.

“When she was at her height, American culture was remarkably diverse and experimental, still
figuring out what it would become,” she says. “There were successful all-black theatres in New York, for example, before well-connected white theatre owners had them shut down. Charlotte’s masculinity was acceptable on-stage, when viewed as a performance, and it helped argue for all gender as performance. But by the time she died in 1876, the American centennial, the postwar culture had clamped down, strictly policing public morality. Even though Charlotte helped create American culture, her role became inconvenient. She was a dangerous influence to young women now clamoring to go to college, to work, to vote. Even on the day she died Victorian critics tried to write her out of history. For a long time, they were successful.”

The Request: We All Have a Friend We’d Rather Forget

“Even the person closest to you has a secret they don’t want you to know,” says author David Bell. “I think
we’ve all had the experience of thinking we know someone really well but people can still surprise us, no matter what.”

“We all have a friend from our past who is a lot of fun when we’re young but when we get older
and get settled that person is someone you want to leave behind,” says David Bell, explaining the idea behind his latest mystery-thriller The Request (Berkley 2020; $11.99—Amazon price). “And I wondered what would happen if that friend showed up and even more if that friend knew something about you that one else knows.”

That’s what happens to Ryan Francis. Years ago, Ryan was involved in a car accident that left a
young girl seriously injured. It was his fault his best friend Blake Norton tells Ryan after he wakes up in the hospital, the memory of the accident completely gone.

Since that time, Ryan has rebuilt his life, marrying, starting a successful business and is now the
father of a young child. He also carries the guilt of knowing he’s harmed someone and has stealthily left large sums of money in the girl’s mailbox to help with her ongoing medical expenses.

But things are coming undone. The girl’s sister confronts Ryan, demanding a large amount of
cash or else she’ll reveal the truth. But she’s not the only one wanting something from Ryan. Blake is
back and he needs a big favor—break into his ex-girlfriend’s home and steal letters Blake wrote her that she’s threatening to show his current fiancé. And though Ryan refuses, Blake won’t take no for an answer. If Ryan won’t get those letters then Blake will reveal the truth of what happened all those years ago.

It’ll be easy, Blake assures him. But, of course, it’s not. Letting himself into the house when
Blake’s ex is supposed to be at yoga class, Ryan can’t find the letters—they’re not where Blake said
they’d be. But much, much worse, the Blake’s ex never left the house to go to yoga. Ryan stumbles across her body—she’s been murdered. And at the same instant, his phone lights up, the woman lying dead at his feet has just asked him to become her Facebook friend.

Blake disappears, stealing Ryan’s laptop, a strange man tries to break into their home while his
wife and baby are there by themselves and the police zero in on Ryan—and his wife–as a possible
suspects. It seems that others besides Ryan and Blake have their secrets as well.

“Even the person closest to you has a secret they don’t want you to know,” says Bell. “I think
we’ve all had the experience of thinking we know someone really well but people can still surprise us, no matter what.”

DAVID BELL is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author whose work has been translated into multiple foreign languages. He’s currently an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he directs the MFA program. He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. His novels include LayoverSomebody’s DaughterBring Her HomeSince She Went AwaySomebody I Used to KnowThe Forgotten GirlNever Come BackThe Hiding PlaceCemetery Girl, and The Request.

The Times of Northwest Indiana Entertainment.

Scott Turow: The Last Trial

              Sandy Stern is a fragile 85 after surviving several devastating bouts of cancer, dealing with several other ailments and the deaths of his two wives. But when his longtime friend Kiril Pafko asks Stern, a noted defense lawyer to represent him on charges of inside trading and murder. Stern though doubtful as to whether he has the physical strength and mental acuity to do so. But Stern owes Pafko, a brilliant medical doctor, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and one of the creators of g-Livia, touted as an amazing breakthrough in cancer treatment.  Stern knows the latter firsthand as Pafko successfully treated him with g-Livia putting his aggressive cancer into remission.

              But Stern was one of the lucky ones. g-Livia also can have deadly side effects, a fact that Pafko is said to have tried to hide by altering test data. He also sold off great amounts of stock in his company that is making the drug, hence the insider trading charge.

              And so begins the opening of The Last Trial (Grand Central Publishing), Scott Turow’s latest courtroom thriller. Turow, who is retiring from his legal practice next month, has worked as a lawyer in Chicago for decades. He also is the bestselling author of Presumed Innocent, The Burden of Proof, Innocent and other novels, several of which have been made into movies and in all have sold more than 40 million copies.  Turow, who isn’t afraid to throw his characters into dark places where all appears lost, is also credited with inventing the modern legal thriller and it’s easy to see why when reading this absorbing story which delves into drug research, development, testing and FDA approval of pharmaceutical drugs.  Though none of these subjects sound fascinating, Turow, who did what he calls a “daunting amount of research,” writes about it in such a way that the process becomes a page turner.

              “It also obviously has a weird relevance about rushing pharmaceuticals to market like we are today,” he says, referring to the vaccines said to be on the horizon to treat COVID-19. This being a Turow novel, there are twists and turns, ups and downs and surprises. Even when you think you’re keeping up with the plot twists, he usually manages to stay a step or more ahead. And yet in the end, it all makes sense.

              “If you want to get philosophical about it, some of twists and turns stems from graduate school,” says Turow who received an Edith Mirrielees Fellowship to Stanford University’s Creative Writing Center where he attended for two years before entering Harvard Law School where he graduated cum laude. “I’ve always been aware of the artifice of the novel where there is, to some extent game playing with the reader—cat and mouse—which I enjoy doing. I also enjoy reading those stories too.”

              Though Turow is retiring he’ll still do a lot of pro bono work, always a passion for him.  And he is currently working on another novel. This one is centered around Pinky, Sandy Stern’s granddaughter and paralegal, a bright but erratic young woman who is working at solving the hit and run accident that severely injured Stern several months earlier. Was it an attempt to kill him? Unfortunately, Pinky also has penchant for indulging in illegal drugs. A definite break-out personality, Turow says he’s committed himself to Pinky as his major character but he worries about recreating her inner voice. But it’s a problem he will solve.

              “I looked at Pinky from the outside in this book,” he says. “I’ll find my way inside in the next.”

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