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“[An] eloquent debut…Joshi’s evocative descriptions capture India’s sensory ambience (horse-drawn tongas, pungent cooking fires and incense, and colorful saris), drawing readers deep into her moving story. Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love.”
“The Henna Artist” is an amiable and entertaining debut novel about an important theme — balancing family with personal ambition — that allows readers to escape into a fantasy teeming with sensory pleasure.
Alka Joshi’s culturally rich debut novel sweeps you back to 1950s post-indepen- dence India. Henna artist and herbal healer Lakshmi Shastri is determined to get ahead, but her past might trip her up. Vibrant characters, evocative imagery, and sumptuous prose create a satisfying, unforgettable tale.
"Alka Joshi’s debut novel is so evocative, so expressive and so exotic that it leads me to suggest she drop whatever else she is doing and write a second novel — like now."
Alka Joshi’s debut novel, exposes a society hobbled by a rigid caste system, misogyny, superstition and age-old traditions. The smell of sandalwood, cooking fires, and tropical flowers wafts through it all, but the injustice and poverty are all but inescapable.
RIch sensory details saturate the novel and immerse the reader in visual images throughout the book.
An uplifting tale that highlights the power of family. For fans of Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter and the novels of Kristin Hannah.
The determination of women to transform their lives and make something of their gifts is a theme that underscores Joshi’s novel.
"Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the not-so-distant past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on."
In Conversation with in-house journalist Angie Coiro, Keplers, Menlo Park, 7pm PT (Zoom) at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/alka-joshi-with-angie-coiro-registration-103553611640?aff=news
Canadian Indigo booksellers tune in to learn more about The Henna Artist with author Alka Joshi: 2PM EDT/11 AM PT
Alka Joshi In Conversation with Bhavna Anna Guyadeen, President at UNA.com about strong portrayals of women (on Zoom, to be posted on UNA.com)
Alka interviews 3 renowned henna artists around the world about the healing properties of the henna plant and its widening reach today.
Tom Barbash, author of 5 books, talks to Alka Joshi about her debut novel The Henna Artist, her writing process and promotion in the age of COVID.
The henna artist at the core of Alka Joshi’s superb first novel is unforgettable. Through her work painting henna onto women's bodies in the boudoirs of the upper class as well as in the hovels of the poor, Lakshmi brings us face to face with the complexity of life in post-independence India. Her plans for self-sufficiency, which are as artful as her designs, have us cheering for her even as she encounters obstacles that threaten to destroy her. Read this book slowly and savor it: Every page is rich with intricate pleasures for both the mind and the heart.
Bestselling Author of The Blood of Flowers and Equal of the Sun
The Henna Artist is like a brilliant, magical kaleidoscope, bursting with color. Through her vivid, compelling portrait of one woman's struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, debut novelist Alka Joshi opens a door into a world that is at once lush, fascinating, stark, and cruel. "The Henna Artist" kept me riveted from start to finish, consumed by the question posed by all great fiction: what happens next?
New York Times Bestselling author of And After the Fire and City of Light.
Alka Joshi is a remarkable new writer with the novelistic gifts of a seasoned veteran. The Henna Artist is a bold, ambitious, beautifully written novel, about India in the decade after independence, and about class, identity, love, and deceit. The broad cast of characters will etch themselves in your psyche, most of all Lakshmi and Radha—both cursed and gifted by fate.
New York Times Bestselling author of Stay Up With Me and Dakota Winters
Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Alka has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She graduated from Stanford University and worked in the fields of advertising and PR before starting her own marketing consultancy. In 2011, she obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. The Henna Artist is her first novel.
Alka shares her writing and publishing process on her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqNLMIc32Z-y4hzkiE3o6rQ
Escaping from an arranged and abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her 1950s rural village to the vibrant pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the henna artist—and confidante—most in demand to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…
Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.
Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.
You can self-publish or choose to sell your book to a major publisher. I did the latter (Harper Collins/Mira Books imprint) and here's what I learned. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu9vWEUYdVE
Every writer I know has self-doubt. Why am I writing something no one has asked for? What am I doing? Is this any good? Spoiler alert: You can use that self-doubt to make your work better! Subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHvyfhmUBPg
Thinking of enrolling in a writing workshop or an MFA program? Make sure you're studying with teachers who have published recently. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zggAWIozioU
Margaret Sutherland Brown, 646.817.3341, firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper Collins/MIRA/HTP: Cindy.Ma@harpercollins.com