The Selector Of Souls

Paperback | September 17, 2013

byShauna Singh Baldwin

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The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we're in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows--the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter--haunts the novel.

In Shauna Singh Baldwin's enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong-willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic church. When Sister Anu comes to Damini's home village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what's best for women. What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power? If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within.

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From the Publisher

The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we're in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows--the huge sacrifice made by Damini ...

Shauna Singh Baldwin was born in Montreal and grew up in India. She is the author of English Lessons and Other Stories and the novels What The Body Remembers and The Tiger Claw. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in literary magazines in the U.S.A., Canada, and India. From 1991-1994 she was an independent radio p...

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What the Body Remembers
What the Body Remembers

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The Tiger Claw
The Tiger Claw

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We Are Not In Pakistan
We Are Not In Pakistan

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 8 × 5.21 × 1.15 inPublished:September 17, 2013Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307362930

ISBN - 13:9780307362933

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Customer Reviews of The Selector Of Souls

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Selector of Souls I absolutely adored this book and recommended it to several friends. The story follows two different women and their lives in India. I found it to be compelling and interesting, tinged with sadness.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Selector of Souls "One mistake and one son." —from The Selector of Souls (How a father of a girl and boy might describe his family.) What do you do when a baby girl is born? Celebrate, or mourn? In India in the 1990s, sorrow often greeted a female on her entry into the world. A baby girl meant a costly wedding later, so female babies carried with them enormous economic repercussions. Worries about this financial impact led to the desire for sex selection. Sex selection links in with the abortion debate. The abortion debate links in with the mélange of religious teachings in India. Religious teachings link in with societal and cultural norms (like castes). Cultural norms link in with weddings. Weddings have economic repercussions, and so on. It adds up to a confusing, interwoven web of "What is the right thing to do?" At the centre of it all: baby girls. Who wants them? Who doesn't? How to treat them? "Pay 5,000 now or 50,000 later." —from The Selector of Souls: (Sign on a clinic offering "cleanings" to get rid of girl babies.) Shauna Singh Baldwin writes about the depth and breadth of gender issues in India. She creates an intriguing plot with empathetic female characters suitably complex enough to navigate the many tributaries of these issues. It's not easy to empathize with her male characters, though. They lack warmth and stick rigidly to ideals imposed upon them by religion or culture. Gender issues lie at the heart of many of the challenges faced by India: abortion, sex selection, infanticide, population imbalance, treatment of homosexuals, violence against women, wage inequality, and religious teachings. Singh Baldwin draws them all into this story, plus some other issues that are not central to the story. (The nuclear arms race is a tale for another day.) This novel would also have benefited from judicious pruning of some of the tortured introspection. It took me a while to sink into this book and to become accustomed to the language. When writing from the point of view of Damini, a middle-aged woman with little education, Singh Baldwin transcribes words and phrases as Damini would perceive them. Depression becomes dipreyshun. It's true, and I like it, but it takes some getting used to. Once the story gripped me, though, it held me. (Okay, I might have skimmed through the nuclear bomb bits.)
Date published: 2013-07-31

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Editorial Reviews

“The Selector of Souls is a bold and vivid dramatization of the charged choices shaping women’s lives in 1990s India. Shauna Singh Baldwin has a gift for warm-hearted and incisive storytelling. This is a novel expansive in its vision and defiantly human in its embrace of the contradictions that animate us all.” —Catherine Bush, author of The Rules of Engagement and Claire’s Head “From its opening lines, in which a mundane scene of domestic life is slowly transformed into horror, The Selector of Souls catapults the reader into a finely imagined space. Shauna Singh Baldwin writes compellingly of the conventions that curtail and threaten the lives of Indian women. Her polished language and original imagery consistently stir and surprise.” —Erna Paris, author of Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History “A canvas of rich images, a cast of memorable characters with all of their strengths and flaws, important moral questions, gripping stories intertwined. Shauna Singh Baldwin has the skill to mix these ingredients, add her humanist touch and come up with a superb novel.” —Frances Itani, author of Deafening and Requiem “The Selector of Souls is a mesmerizing novel, bravely revealing the harsh realities of an entrenched patriarchy bound by the forces of history. Baldwin’s lush details are vivid and luminous, drawing us into the multitude of cultures and religions, the richly textured worlds of India at the end of the last century. Sweeping and evocative, but most of all: illuminating.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. trilogy and Mistress of the Sun “In this tender twister of a tale, Shauna Singh Baldwin takes us inside a world where women murder or abort their daughters to help us understand how gender-loathing and its attendant horrors can be transformed by sympathy and love.” —Susan Swan, author of The Wives of Bath and The Western Light