STARRED REVIEW
February 2018

Bovine love

By Shoba Narayan
Review by

“It’s true that at first I laughed at drinking cow urine but feed me a good story and I can believe anything,” writes author Shoba Narayan. Indeed, she feeds readers a good story in her udderly delightful The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

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“It’s true that at first I laughed at drinking cow urine but feed me a good story and I can believe anything,” writes author Shoba Narayan. Indeed, she feeds readers a good story in her udderly delightful The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

When Narayan, her husband and their two daughters moved from New York City back to the couple’s native India, Narayan was no doubt looking for something to write about. She found it right in the elevator of her new apartment building: a cow riding up to the third floor for a housewarming ceremony, led by its owner, Sarala, a woman who sold raw milk. Hindus consider cows sacred, and India has what Narayan calls a “cow obsession.” Soon this obsession rubs off on her, turning her into “an evangelist for fresh cow’s milk.”

Sarala led the author straight into a herd of often funny and always fascinating bovine adventures, including drinking cow urine (supposedly a curative), mixing a cow dung-yogurt concoction as fertilizer, falling in love with a red cow with “eyes the size of oval macaroons” and even briefly owning a cow before donating it to Sarala.

There’s plenty of heart and soul in this book as Narayan takes readers on a unique tour of her Indian neighborhood, where there’s never a dull moment. Narayan is an astute observer, particularly of herself, noting: “The reason I want to buy milk from a cow is because I am trying to recapture the simple times of my childhood, particularly after the intricate dance that I have undertaken for the last twenty years as an immigrant in America. Milk is my way of reconnecting with the patch of earth that I call home.”

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Shoba Narayan for The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Milk Lady of Bangalore

The Milk Lady of Bangalore

By Shoba Narayan
Algonquin
ISBN 9781616206154

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