Small Days and Night by Tishani Doshi [in Booklist]
Grace was unaware of her sister’s existence until their mother’s death revealed the family’s three-decades-plus secret. Grace returns to her native Madras from America, where she’s been living since college, working in customer service and watching her marriage implode over progeny disagreements. She’s jet-lagged but Ma’s best friend, Kavitha, won’t let her rest: “‘Now, you must listen.’”
Four years before Grace, Lucia “was born a Mongoloid” and entered the nearby Sneha Centre, where Ma disappeared to every Thursday. In dying, Ma has bequeathed Grace seaside land, a remote house, and Lucia. With little left of her stateside life, Grace begins to navigate her inherited community, her new sister, their ever-multiplying canine companions, and a village in which women living on their own is a potentially dangerous anomaly.
Tishani Doshi (The Pleasure Seekers, 2010), herself Madras-born, has a younger brother with Down Syndrome, and she has revealed that reading about Arthur Miller’s 1960s decision to institutionalize his Down Syndrome son provided literary inspiration. Doshi certainly writes with eyes wide open, never minimizing the challenges and the failures that prove both damning and redemptive.