|“The book explores many themes –
a young girl’s coming of age; feminism, colonialism;
and the Hindu tenets of
nonviolence. Venkatraman did not intentionally write an allegory
of the war in Iraq, but she
recognized that the book can be
read that way…Marketed by G. P. Putnam’s Sons as a young adult novel…[i]n its language and
subtlety, it reads like an
adult novel…Readers who ignore
such labels will find a rich,
- The South County Independent
|Kitta was the first character born in my mind – a young man who embodies the tumult of the era in which he lives. It was a time of intense dramatic contrast, when the world witnessed the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, while at the same time watching the first nationwide nonviolent independence movement unfold in India.
India in the 1940’s was a place of divided loyalties and tremendous irony. The world was tense – there was no knowing who would win the war or when or how it would end. India was an occupied, defeated nation, colonized by the British. The irony is revealed as England’s Allied forces fought to keep the world free of Hitler’s tyranny, while the British continued to believe in their own superiority and their right to rule those whom they had conquered.
Kitta, caught between ideals of peace and the reality of war, is forced to choose between them. His difficult decision mirrors that of other Indian men who lived at the time. Below, you will find links to resources that explore the issues raised by World War II, particularly as they relate to India’s involvement.
|“Climbing the Stairs is a wonderful, well written, and thought provoking book that navigates the historical and political context of India during WWII, commenting and using it as a backdrop without letting it overwhelm the story. There are so many threads beautifully woven together.”
– Kelly Easton from Amazon.com Customer Reviews
|Resources on the Contribution of the British Colonies to World War II
Adler, Bill and McLennan, Tracy Quinn. World War II Letters: A Glimpse into the Heart of the Second World War Through the Eyes of Those Who Were Fighting It. 2003. New York: St. Martin's Griffin
Astor, Gerald. The Jungle War: Mavericks, Marauders and Madmen in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II. 2004. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Gilbert, Martin. The Second World War: A Complete History. 2004. New York: Holt.
We Were There. http://www.wewerethere.defencedynamics.mod.uk/ww2/india_1.html
This British site “offers a wider and more inclusive perspective of our military past. It demonstrates how people from different religions, races, and cultures came together at times of great social, political, military and geographical change to help create and then defend the British Empire and democratic freedom. What has surprised many people is that most of those who served from the colonies were volunteers, including the whole of the Indian Army.”
For the complete list of resources on India's involvement in World War II, click here.