Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Boost Blogger of the Year Nominee: Shobhan Bantwal

Enter to win the 2010 Book Boost Prize Bundle & meet our first Blogger of the Year Award Nominee!

As you may recall from our announcement last November, we've carefully selected FIVE guest bloggers from 2010 and nominated them for the First Annual Book Boost Blogger of the Year Award!

The first nominee is Kensington author Shobhan Bantwal who joins us today to discuss her nominated book The Unexpected Son.

I've had the pleasure and honor of reading this book over the past month and it was a heart wrenching journey to say the least. Set in another time and another culture, ironically, I found myself drawn to those elements of story which I found the least relatable to my own life.

Having grown up in western culture, my mind simply explodes with wonder as to the way of thinking of the people in Vinita's life. I wanted to reach out and scream encouragement at her. I wanted to give her a big hug and tell her that she wasn't wrong and that she shouldn't be ashamed. Simply put, her story broke my heart.

But what I did find most relatable were all the feelings she kept inside. Feelings about becoming a young mother, the love, the loss, and the sometimes unbearable grief of parenthood--that is rarely ever discussed in real life.

I adored this book and despite our very different backgrounds, this was a journey I felt proud to have taken.

Here's more about The Unexpected Son:

A shocking letter from India sends middle-aged Vinita Patil reeling in Bantwal's (The Dowry Bride) absorbing latest. Living in New Jersey, contentedly married for almost 25 years to Girish, a mechanical engineer with whom she has a daughter, Vinita learns that the illegitimate child she believed was stillborn in India, is alive, suffering from myeloid leukemia, and desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Vinita's brother, Vishal, who'd orchestrated the deception and arranged for the baby's adoption, fesses up that Vinta's son, Rohit Barve, is a chemistry professor at Shivraj College, the college where Vinita met Rohit's playboy father, Som Kori, who'd refused to marry her. Vinita and Som's coming from different linguistic groups vying for control of the border town of Palagum, made their union impossible.

After Vinita finally meets her grown son, she's disturbed to learn that Som and Rohit's adoptive father are still embroiled in the violent territorial conflict, a situation that adds suspense to the story. This inspiring testament to a mother's enduring love makes for a fascinating tale and provides a window into an equally fascinating culture.

Recently, I chatted with Shobhan and here's what she had to say...

TBB: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

SB: Recalling my college days in small-town India in the 1970s, I was amazed at the number of clandestine romances that blossomed on campus despite the strict taboos on dating imposed by my conservative Hindu culture. I often wondered what could happen if one of those furtive romances ended up in an unwanted pregnancy. That "what if" thought fueled the idea for The Unexpected Son.

TBB: Is there a message in your book that you hope readers will really get?

SB: The message in The Unexpected Son is that no matter what, a mother's heart will always draw her towards her children. There is no better example of unconditional love than that of a mother's.

TBB: What has been your favorite fan letter or fan comment ever?

SB: Since my books are women's fiction I was totally stunned by an ex-army officer who wrote to me that he generally read manly fiction but stumbled upon my book at a bookstore and bought it only because his wife and daughter challenged him to read something different. The delightful result was that he loved my debut book, The Dowry Bride. Coming from a stern old army colonel who looks upon women's fiction as worthless fluff, that was indeed high praise.

TBB: What has been your biggest reward as an author thus far in your career?

SB: My biggest reward has been the way my books have touched so many women's lives, especially because my first two are based on hot-button social/women's issues (dowry and female-fetus abortion) in contemporary India. I continue to receive encouraging feedback from readers for my candid exposure of controversial women's issues that are typically swept under the rug in South Asian society. Consequently many women's organizations and charities invite me to speak about my books and the subjects I bring awareness to.

TBB: Give me one quote (from yourself/by yourself) about being a writer.

SB: Growing an alligator skin is a must for every writer; reviewers and readers can be brutal.

TBB: What is your favorite breakfast food?

SB: I adore pancakes with butter and warm syrup for breakfast.

TBB: Name of the first boy you ever kissed.

SB: My arranged-marriage husband is the first man I ever kissed, and he is still the only man I kiss to this day.

TBB: If someone wrote a biography about you, what should the title be?

SB: I think my biography should be titled "The Little Woman who Could."

TBB: Thanks for joining us at the Book Boost, Shobhan and best of luck with this nomination and your future writing!

My best,
Kerri Nelson
Owner, The Book Boost

Want More?

Be sure to visit Shobhan at her website here:

And pick up your own copy of The Unexpected Son.
Click here.

Contest Time:

DON'T Forget to come back on February 4th when VOTING will commence for your choice of Book Boost Blogger of the Year!

AND everyone who comments on any of the 5 nominee blog posts will be entered to win the HUGE 2010 Book Boost Prize Bundle! Every comment counts as 1 entry! So, visit and comment often for more chances to win.

See you again on January 12th (next Wednesday) for our next nominee, C.J. Ellisson!


Tami Winbush said...

Wow, that book sounds good - and I can tell you I would pick up the book for the cover only! Thanks for telling us about the book and the author.

Unknown said...

Tami, thanks for the comment. I sincerely hope you'll read The Unexpected Son and enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

DearHelenHartman said...

followed your link from FB - happy to have found this interesting blog

Priti said...

Awesome Book' Unexpected son ' I loved it.

Chunesami said...

Sounds like an engrossing tale,for sure. I look forward to reading it!

Unknown said...

This is a heart-wrenching story and I can't wait to read it. I have a feeling I won't be able to put it down. Congratulations on the nomination Shobhan!

SiNn said...

All of Shobans books are awesome great post and congrats on the nomination!

Unknown said...

Ladies, I'm so glad I posted this on FB. Looks like many of you came through that link. Thank you for your kind comments and continued support. Keep on reading...

Unknown said...

Shobhan, Congratulations! It is so interesting to see life through a different view point. Living in Hawaii I see many view points as we are a calabash of backgrounds. Thank you so much for sharing yours!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Thanks for adding me as a Friend on FB. I followed your link and enjoyed reading the blog. Congrats on your Nomination for Blogger of the Year.Looking forward to reading Unexpected son ' ....I'm sure I'll enjoy it like I did the others.
Keep them (books) coming. Looking forward to more great books.

maya rao said...

A wonderful story "Unextected son"! emotionally touching and depicting the author's deep insight into human psychology,apart from being entertaining and educative as well. The only drawback is that once you start reading the book with it's magnetic and engrossing charm, you forget everything else till you finish it. I wish Shobhan Good luck for the Nomination. She deserves it a hundred percent.