Inside the Mirror: A Novel (AWP Prize for the Novel) (Paperback)

Inside the Mirror: A Novel (AWP Prize for the Novel) By Parul Kapur Cover Image

Inside the Mirror: A Novel (AWP Prize for the Novel) (Paperback)


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Winner of the AWP Prize for the Novel
Ms. Magazine's Most Anticipated Feminist Books of 2024
Named to
Brown Girl Bookshelf's List of 24 Books to Read in 2024 

In 1950s Bombay, Jaya Malhotra studies medicine at the direction of her father, a champion of women’s education who assumes the right to choose his daughters’ vocations. A talented painter drawn to the city’s dynamic new modern art movement, Jaya is driven by her desire to express both the pain and extraordinary force of life of a nation rising from the devastation of British rule. Her twin sister, Kamlesh, a passionate student of Bharata Natyam dance, complies with her father’s decision that she become a schoolteacher while secretly pursuing forbidden dreams of dancing onstage and in the movies.

When Jaya moves out of her family home to live with a woman mentor, she suffers grievous consequences as a rare woman in the men’s domain of art. Not only does her departure from home threaten her family’s standing and crush her reputation; Jaya loses a vital connection to Kamlesh.

Winner of the AWP Prize for the Novel, Parul Kapur’s Inside the Mirror is set in the aftermath of colonialism, as an impoverished India struggles to remake itself into a modern state. Jaya’s story encompasses art, history, political revolt, love, and women’s ambition to seize their own power.
Parul Kapur was born in Assam, India, grew up in the United States, and lives in Atlanta. She is a fiction writer, journalist, and literary critic whose writing has appeared in a number of publications, including Ploughshares, Pleiades, the New Yorker, Art in America, Guernica, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Paris Review. Kapur holds an MFA from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.

Product Details ISBN: 9781496236784
ISBN-10: 1496236785
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Publication Date: March 1st, 2024
Pages: 358
Language: English
Series: AWP Prize for the Novel
"This is a beautiful exploration of the hardships endured by women artists."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Kapur's vivid descriptions of Jaya's paintings and Kamlesh's dancing bring them to life on the page."—Booklist, starred review

"An engaging examination of female independence and familial devotion."—Kirkus Reviews

"Focused on gender roles, art and reimagination, this remarkable debut features twin sisters who take different paths in 1950s India. As one complies with her father's wishes, the other risks it all to live with agency, authenticity and ambition."—Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine

"While Inside the Mirror is set in a specific place and period, the themes explored are universal and still valid. At heart, the novel is about young women finding their true identities and fighting all odds to stay true to their sense of self."—Girija Sankar, Khabar Magazine

"This is a dense story packed with rich characters and brimming with timely references to India's changing landscape. A forbidden Bengali boy adds to the social pressures the Malhotra sisters must navigate on the harrowing road to self-fulfillment. Through it all, Kapur infuses her protagonists with agency even as she remains honest in her depiction of the personal cost Jaya and Kamlesh pay. . . . [Her] admiration for those who came before her unfolds in sweeping layers of vivid descriptions, cloistered emotions and characters who linger in the mind long after the tale's conclusion."—Leah Tyler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Inside the Mirror is an extraordinary and moving story about twin sisters Jaya and Kamlesh as they struggle to pursue their passion and independence as women artists from a conservative society. Crafted with elegance and precision, and heartrending in its exploration of family drama, this novel is a beautiful and ambitious work of fiction.”—Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

“With breathtaking lyricism and scorching insight, Kapur captures women in flux brilliantly. This profound book complicates the impact of colonialism and throbs with life. Inside the Mirror is an extraordinary novel.”—Jennifer Maritza McCauley, author of When Trying to Return Home

Inside the Mirror is a complex and compelling story of a displaced family living in the shadow of post-Partition India. Parul Kapur has written a gorgeous novel about art, independence, and the roots that bind a family together.”—Devi S. Laskar, author of Circa and The Atlas of Reds and Blues

“A sparkling jewel of a novel, Inside the Mirror follows twins Jaya and Kamlesh as they pursue artistic ambitions. Battling their own fears, the young women wrestle with the familial and cultural expectations holding them back. Even as relationships splinter and trust is broken, Jaya and Kamlesh bravely seek lives without limits, lives in which they attain the grace they have long deserved.”—Heather Bell Adams, author of Maranatha Road and The Good Luck Stone