Bollywood Beauties and Smudgy Lines


I just finished reading Shalini Akhil‘s very fun novel The Bollywood BeautyIt made me deeply nostalgic for India, even though it is set here in Melbourne and in Fiji. I loved all the references to jalebi’s (yum), bhangra dancing and Bollywood movies. It’s a feast of a book in terms of Indian culture and a nice take on the dilemmas faced by young people who bridge multiple cultures (Indian, Fijian and Australian). There aren’t enough Aussie books like this around.
‘The Bollywood Beauty’ was published as an adult book but apart from a few fairly irrelevant (and irreverent) references to drugs and alcohol, it’s got a very YA feel to it. I know a number of youth librarians that are recommending it to older teenagers. It’s one of those books that sits on the smudgy line between adult fiction and youth literature. Sometimes I wonder who draws these lines and what exactly makes a book sit on one side or the other. I suspect books like ‘The Bollywood Beauty’ have a foot firmly in both camps but to prevent too much outrage from the gatekeepers of youth literature some books are best left on the adult shelf, waiting for a teenager to stumble across them.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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