The Heart is a Shifting Sea: A Selected Bibliography

February 27th, 2018

The Heart is a Shifting Sea offers a penetrating look into three modern-day Mumbai marriages. Flock, a reporter for PBS NewsHour, spent close to a decade researching her book, getting to know the three couples she profiles intimately. The result is both an enthralling portrait of a nation in the midst of transition and an unforgettable look at the mysteries of love and marriage that connect us all. Elizabeth Flock will discuss The Heart is a Shifting Sea on Tuesday 3/6, 6pm at the Co-op.

India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha - Guha, perhaps India's most respected historian, has said that in the wake of Independence and Partition, India is now undergoing multiple revolutions at the same time: political, economic, urban, social and cultural. (Unlike in Europe and America, where these revolutions were staggered). In many ways, these changes are upending the Indian marriage.

May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India, by Elisabeth Bumiller - This 1990 book explores a range of issues that still loom large for women in India today, including: female infanticide, the notion of "wedding first, love later," the fight to work post-marriage, the increasing divorce rate but persistent shame associated with it, and why there is no word in any Indian language for orgasm.

The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young, by Somini Sengupta - Sengupta lays out how the vast majority of India's population today is under the age of 35, a demographic change that's “fueling implosions big and small." And yet as of the last census, for every 1000 boys, there were only 919 girls, the sharpest gender imbalance in India’s history. Sengupta chronicles how young Indian women (and older, too) are increasingly pushing against the rules, but how they are being held back from doing so.

Images of Asia: American Views of China and India, by Harold Isaacs - Isaacs, who chronicled Asian life in the mid 20th century, writes that Americans had only a few impressions of Indian people then: as fabulous (snake charmers and maharajahs), as mystical (holy men and palmists), as heathens (cow and idol-worshippers), and as pitiful (leprous beggars and slum dwellers). That was 50 years ago, but it sometimes feels like not much has changed since. With a country as large as India, it is tempting to stereotype oversimplify. But India, which today accounts for one-sixth of everyone on Earth, is too big and diverse for such generalities, with a bewildering array of languages, religions, castes and ethnicities.

The Hindus: An Alternative History, by Wendy Doniger - Wendy's book was enormously controversial in India, even banned. Her important account of Hinduism, spanning centuries, explores so much that continues to affect how Hindu men and women think about themselves today. It shows how the misogynist and hierarchical texts of the lawmaker Manu actually came to be privileged only under British rule. It explores the erotic side of Hinduism and India's more sexually liberated past. And it reckons with the very varied treatment of women and lower castes through Hindu history.

India in Love: Marriage and Love in the 21st Century, by Ira Trivedi - Trivedi explores the dizzying array of changes happening in sex, love and marriage in India now. Among them are the emancipation of women, the breakup of the "joint family," the redefinition of sexual mores, the shift from arranged to love marriages, and the increasing popularity of porn, especially among women.

Love Will Follow: Why the Indian Marriage is Burning, by Shaifali Sandhya - This first clinical psychology survey of its kind includes some startling stats. That 1/3 of Indian couples are dissatisfied with their sex life. That 80 percent of divorces initiated in India are by women. That 94 percent of Indian couples say they are happy in their relationships but a majority say they would not marry the same person again.

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketu Mehta - This personal and kaleidoscopic view of Mumbai shows us India's most frenetic city from the perspective of the people we often can't or don't see: the gangsters, the bar dancers, the Bollywood stars, the villagers who come in search of a better life. It also looks at how Mumbai is a country onto itself, and so overpopulated that most lovers can't find a place to be alone.

About Elizabeth Flock: Elizabeth Flock began her career at Forbes India Magazine, where she spent two years as a features and investigative reporter in Mumbai. More recently she has worked at U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post, reporting on the intersection of politics race, gender and religion, and resistance movements. Her work has also been published in the Chicago TribuneNew York TimesAtlanticNew York Magazine, and Hindustan Times, among others. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she works as a reporter for PBS Newshour.

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