#8 Discover Ten New Authors of Colour
The Orphan of India by Sharon Maas
We follow the story of Jyoti – told, at first, by her adoptive, British parents who cross Jyoti’s path in Bombay, India. After a tragedy, they are able to follow an exhausting procedure and bring the little Indian girl lawfully to England as theirs.
However, Jyoti's adoptive parents were never the ideal couple. Jack is a talented musician and teaches Jyoti, who has a natural love for music. Monika is side-lined. Then their marriage starts to go badly wrong and their dreams of having a child of their own may not, it seems, be sufficient to stop things going off the rails.
Jyoti will come into her own as a gifted violin player. As readers, we know her first love is for the sitar (an Indian instrument) and her private longing to play Indian music versus her success as a classical violin player, is handled masterfully by the author. Through this, we are shown Jyoti’s struggle with her life in England versus her roots in India.
Jyoti also has difficulties in her love life. As a little girl she falls for a young man who later comes back to her once she is rich and famous. They seem ideally suited, but what of the Indian sitar player who also entranced her? How can she ever reconcile her feelings for two men and two continents?
Jyoti must endure terrible losses and find a way to overcome her inner feelings of coming from nothing. She must learn to capitalise on her strengths. This is the part of the story which most captured my imagination and Maas deals with it sensitively and with profound insight. A very well written book in a literary style, that is far more than it seems.
Biopic Sharon Maas
Five things you didn’t know about Sharon Maas
1) I am a German citizen. Yes indeed. I first came to Germany in 1975, when I was 25, and married a German. I did not like it much and didn’t have an easy time getting adjusted – though I did learn the language pretty quickly. Again and again I tried to escape: to France, to the USA, to India--but it never worked out. I always returned to Germany. I even married another German after my divorce! And here I am still. Germany has changes so much over the last 40 years and now I love it, and feel very much at home and at ease. However, now that I am retired, I’m thinking of moving to a nice warm tropical country: how much are you betting it will work out?
2) I’m a social worker and my first employment was as a probation worker in Germany. I also worked with pre-release convicts in a halfway house in Boston, back in 1981. I had a long break to raise children and write books, after which I worked as a social worker in a German hospital. I had a second job helping young unaccompanied refugees in a home in Germany. That was the best job ever. But now I’m retired and have all the time in the world for my true calling: writing.
3) I was in jail myself! After hiking around South America for a year I was arrested for possession of a box of marijuana in 1972 – a long story I’ll tell someday. I was locked up for a couple of weeks, and then miraculously released. An experience that turned my life around…
4) My favourite book of all time is the Mahabharata, the Indian epic. It’s also the oldest and longest epic in the world. I thought it was much too long, that the main story got lost in the length, so I wrote my own version, hoping to catch the wonderful essence of that book, and self-published it. It’s called Sons of Gods. And I still think the Mahabharata is the best story of all time.
5) Apart from Germany I have two spiritual homes. One is Guyana, the country I grew up in. I wouldn’t change that for the world, as that childhood was simply wonderful. My spiritual home is in India, for it was there, as an adult, I found my bearings and my identity. But basically I just love being on earth, and feel that every country, every culture, is fantastic.
Thanks for talking to us, Sharon, and good luck with your latest release.
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