The Lucky Ones: A Memoir (Hardcover)

The Lucky Ones: A Memoir By Zara Chowdhary Cover Image
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A moving memoir by a survivor of anti-Muslim violence in contemporary India that delicately weaves political and family histories in a tribute to her country’s unique Islamic heritage—“a must-read in our warring world today” (NPR)

“A harrowing survivor’s tale, an important history lesson, and a desperate warning from someone who has seen the tragic effects of ethnic violence.”—Time

In 2002, Zara Chowdhary is sixteen years old and living with her family in Ahmedabad, one of India’s fastest-growing cities, when a gruesome train fire claims the lives of sixty Hindu right-wing volunteers and upends the life of five million Muslims. Instead of taking her school exams that week, Zara is put under a three-month siege, with her family and thousands of others fearing for their lives as Hindu neighbors, friends, and members of civil society transform overnight into bloodthirsty mobs, hunting and massacring their fellow citizens. The chief minister of the state at the time, Narendra Modi, will later be accused of fomenting the massacre, and yet a decade later, will rise to become India’s prime minister, sending the “world’s largest democracy” hurtling toward cacophonous Hindu nationalism. 
The Lucky Ones traces the past of a multigenerational Muslim family to India’s brave but bloody origins, a segregated city’s ancient past, and the lingering hurt causing bloodshed on the streets. Symphonic interludes offer glimpses into the precious, ordinary lives of Muslims, all locked together in a crumbling apartment building in the city’s old quarters, with their ability to forgive and find laughter, to offer grace even as the world outside, and their place in it, falls apart.
The Lucky Ones entwines lost histories across a subcontinent, examines forgotten myths, prods a family’s secrets, and gazes unflinchingly back at a country rushing to move past the biggest pogrom in its modern history. It is a warning thrown to the world by a young survivor, to democracies that fail to protect their vulnerable, and to homes that won’t listen to their daughters. It is an ode to the rebellion of a young woman who insists she will belong to her land, family, and faith on her own terms.

About the Author

Zara Chowdhary is a writer and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin. She has an MFA in creative writing and environment from Iowa State University and a master's in writing for performance from the University of Leeds. She has previously written for documentary television, advertising, and film. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her partner, child, and two cats.

Praise For…

“A harrowing survivor’s tale, an important history lesson, and a desperate warning from someone who has seen the tragic effects of ethnic violence.”Time

“The Lucky Ones is a unique memoir in English of this largest-ever massacre in independent India. It is also about a communal crisis bringing a fractured family together. A must-read in our warring world today.”NPR

“Easily the best memoir coming out of South Asia in recent years, The Lucky Ones is essential reading for anyone who loves great writing, told true and straight as an arrow to the heart.”—Suketu Mehta, author of Pulitzer Finalist Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

The Lucky Ones is proof that it is in the voice of a minority population that a nation is revealed.  Nobody knows a country better, nobody fights more fiercely for what is good in it, nobody has a greater stake, nobody has more profound ownership.”—Kiran Desai, Booker Prize winning author of The Inheritance of Loss

“A warning, thrown to the world, and a stunning debut—Chowdhary is a much-needed new voice.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“An astonishing feat of storytelling, an urgent reckoning with a past that feels all too present, and a moving ode to the women in her family, Chowdhary’s memoir is one that should and will haunt you.”—Nicole Chung, author of A Living Remedy

The Lucky Ones by Zara Chowdhary is a lacerating, gorgeous, unsettling recuperation of national memory from the forces of oblivion. She uncovers its roots and reveals, with shocking hope, what a vision for grace and kindness in the future may be.”—Kazim Ali, author of Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water

The Lucky Ones is a necessary, deep reckoning with history, identity, and violence. This memoir will break your heart and then repair it.”—Beth Nguyen, author of Owner of a Lonely Heart

“Blending lyrical writing and investigative reports, this is a necessary read—especially in these times of Islamophobia and genocide.”—Lamya H, author of Hijab Butch Blues

The Lucky Ones is an act of urgent political witness, a refusal to allow the brutalities of twenty years ago to be forgotten—and repeated—today.”—Tessa Hulls, author of Feeding Ghosts

“Chowdhary delivers an exceptional portrait of resilience in the face of unfathomable cruelty. This is difficult to forget.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This is reading fire in your hands. Do not miss it.”—Booklist, starred review

“A tight, suspenseful narrative that interweaves one girl’s keen observations of family within India’s problematic history.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593727430
ISBN-10: 0593727436
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English