Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions—the topic of India is permanently closed. For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she finds a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colourful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she’s ever dared and find the family she never knew.


  • A well-produced young adult graphic novel by an Indian American author, weaving in magical realism to tell a story that intersects the lives of many young women.
  • Nidhi Chanani’s illustrations are beautiful. The use of colours – black and white for the main narrative, bright colours for the fantasy sections, and a sepia tone for flashbacks – is quite lovely.
  • As a story and an immigrant narrative, however, there are many shortcomings. India is painted as a backward place, unsafe for girls and women to the point of being dangerous, and full of people with regressive attitudes. As a feminist tale, too, Pashmina doesn’t venture beyond the stereotype of Indian women shackled by patriarchy.
  • There are numerous factual errors: for example, the eponymous ‘pashmina’ is made of Assam silk in a factory in Nagpur (!); there’s an idol of a Hindu goddess in a taxi driven by a man who is clearly a Muslim; and would Bangalore be the place a true native would go for the best dosas in the country? We think not.


This could have been an interesting coming-of-age story, but it has been told with an Orientalist lens, portraying India as regressive and exotic, and rife with assumptions and errors. Clearly the author has little actual knowledge or experience of India.


Author & Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani
Language: English
Page Extent: 176 pages
Price: Rs. 399.00
ISBN: 978-93-87103-11-5
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2017
Subject category: Fiction/Graphic Novel/Young Adult/Fantasy
Age-group: 13+

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