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About the Author

Mahtab Narsimhan

Mahtab Narsimhan is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Silver Birch Award winner The Third Eye. Her novel, The Tiffin (Dancing Cat Books, 2011), was nominated for numerous awards in Canada and was recently published in the United Kingdom and Taiwan. Mission Mumbai is her publishing debut in the United States. Mahtab is a native of Mumbai, India, and lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her online at www.mahtabnarsimhan.com.

Books by this Author
Embrace the Chicken

Embrace the Chicken

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback
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Genie Meanie

Genie Meanie

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Mission Mumbai

Mission Mumbai

A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

 

We zoomed through the streets of the city as it stirred to life. In front of dilapidated huts, made entirely of recyclable material, stoves were already lit, heating up steaming pots of food. Women squatted on sidewalks, totally at home in this open-air kitchen. I was amazed at how comfortable they looked, living on the street. Sufficiently awake by now, I started clicking away on my Nikon, pausing every few seconds to wipe my sweaty hands on my shorts.

            Shortly after, we arrived at Victoria Terminus. It was the equivalent of Grand Central Station in New York City, but it couldn't have been more different. Nothing had prepared me for the explosion of sight, sound, and color. Even at 6:45 the place was packed. People jostled us, calling out to one another as they hurried toward the dusty white-and-blue carriages waiting patiently along the length of the station. Sweating porters with unimaginably heavy loads balanced on their heads loped by. They were followed by families probably on their way to the country for vacations. The pungent smells of samosas, fresh ink, and pee lingered in the air. I stood there and gaped, enveloped in a frenzy of human activity unlike anything I'd seen before. There also lingered a twinge of panic. If I got lost here, how would I find my way back home? Why had I refused to carry the cell phone Mom had offered?

 

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Strangers Among Us
Excerpt

The Cullng by Kelley Armstrong

We grew up with stories of how the Cullings saved us. Stories of the famines and the aftermath, a world that once grew grain and corn in abundance, the forests overrun with rabbits and deer, lakes and streams brimming with trout and salmon. How all that had come to an end, the water drying up and everything dying with the drought—the grain and the corn and the rabbits and the deer and the trout and the salmon. And us. Most of all, us.

Left with so few resources, it was not enough to simply ration food and water. Not enough to reduce birth rates. Not enough to refuse any measures to prevent death. We needed more. We needed the Cullings.

The Cullings removed surplus population by systematically rooting out “weakness.” At first, they targeted the old and infirm. When that was no longer enough, any physical disability could see one culled. Even something that did not impair one’s ability to work—like a disfiguring birthmark—was said to be enough, on the reasoning that there was a taint in the bloodline that might eventually lead to a more debilitating condition.

The population dropped, but so did the water supply, and with it, the food supply, and eventually more stringent measures were required. That’s when they began targeting anyone who was different, in body or in mind. If you kept too much to yourself, rejecting the companionship of others; if you were easily upset or made anxious or sad; if you occasionally saw or heard things that weren’t there . . . all were reasons to be culled. But the thing is, sometimes those conditions are easier to hide than a bad leg or a mark on your face. It just takes a little ingenuity and a family unwilling to let you go.

 

***

“Who are you talking to, Marisol?” my mother says as she hurries into my room.

I motion to my open window, and to Enya, who had stopped to chat on her way to market. She says a quick hello to my mother and then a goodbye to me before carrying on down the village lane.

I murmur to my mother, “A real, living friend. You can see her, too, right?”

“I was just—”

“Checking, I know.” I put my arm around her shoulders. Having just passed my sixteenth birthday, I’m already an inch taller and making the most of it. “I have not had imaginary friends in many years, Momma.”

“I know. It’s just . . . I’ve heard you talking recently. When you’re alone.”

“I argue with myself. You know how I am—always spoiling for a fight. If no one’s around to give me one, I must make do.” I smack a kiss on her cheek. “I don’t hear voices, Momma. I’m not your sister. I have a little of what she did, but only a little, and I know how to hide it. I don’t talk about my imaginary friends, even if they’re long gone. I don’t let anyone see my wild pictures. I don’t tell anyone my even wilder stories. I am absolutely, incredibly, boringly normal.”

She makes a face at me.

“What?” I say. “It is boring. But I will fake it, for you and Papa.”

“For you, Mari. Our worries are for you, and yours should be, too.”

“But I don’t need to be worried, because I am very careful.”

“The Culling is coming.”

“As you have reminded me every day for the past month. I will be fine. I’ll even stop arguing with myself, though that means you’ll need to break up more fights between Dieter and me.”

“Your brother will happily argue with you if it keeps you safe.”

“It will.” I give her a one-armed hug. “I’ll be fine, Momma.”

Excerpted from Strangers Among Us Copyright © 2016

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The Deadly Conch

The Deadly Conch

Tara Trilogy
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Silver Anklet

The Silver Anklet

Tara Trilogy
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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The Tara Trilogy 3-Book Bundle

The Tara Trilogy 3-Book Bundle

The Third Eye / The Silver Anklet / The Deadly Conch
edition:eBook
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The Third Eye

The Third Eye

Tara Trilogy
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook eBook
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