The Mistress Hits the Road

This post originally appeared on Murder Is Everywhere.

The Mistress of Bhatia House

Today is the day I’ve been awaiting for a long time—well, for at least several years! The Mistress of Bhatia House has emerged from seclusion and is now book-touring her way across the USA.

My novels usually carry titles that mention a person’s role—say, a widow, a prince, a daughter, a wife. Or, I am drawn to having a place name in the title. Although I have titled just about every book I’ve written, this time, the title idea was presented by my publisher, Soho Press. I was stunned by it and instantly realized that t it was so much better than my original idea (Death in Ghatkopar).

So what does it mean? Bhatia is a clan surname that stretches from Pakistan throughout India. So it’s not tied to one region, because Bhatias were merchants set down roots in many places. One of my dearest friends is a Bhatia whose family are Punjabi. When I was signing books tonight at Politics & Prose In Washington D.C., I met a Western woman married to a Gujarati Bhatia husband. And she was wearing great Indian jewelry!

The Bhatia House referred to in the title is the name of the fictional compound where a Gujarati merchant family lives. It’s in a place called Ghatkopar, a village close to Bombay. And so who’s the mistress? This was what my interlocutor asked me right away. Now, the obvious choice for “Mistress” of Bhatia House is Uma Bhatia, the senior ranking woman in the household.  Uma’s sister-in-law, Mangala Bhatia, a competitive sort who’s to undermine Uma and put her own children ahead. But I want the reader to wonder if Oshadi, an elderly head female servant at Bhatia House, might be the mistress I’m thinking of. And there’s a second female servant, Sunanda, who might be the mistress of one of the household’s men.

It has felt thrilling to be signing books in a store this summer. On Wednesday I’m flying out to Minneapolis, MN and continuing to California, then back in Pennsylvania, and ending the celebration with signings beach towns in Delaware and Maryland. (Yes—I am stalking readers where they might be off duty!)

And last but not least, I hope to be in India this fall to visit readers who have access to the Penguin Random House India edition. Also, an audiobook is out, with narration by the fantastic Sneha Mathan, who has read three previous books by me. Details about my stops are on the events page of my website.

Ivy Bookstore

I am humbled by the warm reception this book is getting, and I am grateful to my comrades at Murder Is Everywhere for the years of support it took to finish this book. And to you also—dear readers. Your enthusiasm for crime fiction set around the world has taken our manuscripts out the drawer and created a thriving genre.

2 thoughts on “The Mistress Hits the Road”

  1. Hi Sujata,
    How are you?
    I just finished reading “The Mistress of Bhatia House”. I loved it and finished it in 3 days. Is there going to be another Perveen Mistry book? I hope there is.

  2. I feel as Mahima does–I devoured _The Mistress_ in 2 days (but there should be no contest, and in fact, I read it too quickly! Now I miss it!) and LOVE it. I am so grateful for your wise eyes integrating class and caste issues, sexism and sexual violence issues, reproductive freedom and health issues into a smashing, tightly woven memoir…well, it feels like Perveen’s memoir. You know what a compliment I mean that to be! I also love the little seeds you’ve dropped into those rich furrows for next time, like Gulnaz–oh wait, I’m about to deliver a spoiler! Never mind! I am, again, so grateful.

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