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“…In her first novel, Venkatraman paints an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change…”

Starred review, Booklist
The incidents that occur in the extended family household in Climbing the Stairs are based on actual circumstances during that time in India’s history. As part of the research I did for this book, I interviewed several women who had lived in similar homes. Sadly, I actually minimized some of the more upsetting stories these women shared. Periamma’s treatment of the other women in the family was behavior that was sanctioned, if not outright demanded by, the prevailing culture.

As issues of social justice were brought to the forefront, the treatment of women in India improved. The power of vengeful women like Periamma was diminished.

Below is a list of resources on social justice.


Social Justice


Coman, Carolyn.
What Jamie Saw. 1995. New YorK: Penguin.

Dickens, Charles.
Oliver Twist. 2003. New York: Penguin Classics.

Gosh, Amitav.
The Hungry Tide. 2006. New York: Mariner Books.

Markandeya, Kamala.
Nectar in a Sieve. 2002. New York: Signet Classics.


For the complete list of resources on social justice, click here.
“…could not put it down until I finished every page! I was very taken with Vidya--she was very three-dimensionally drawn--and really hated to see the story end… It is even more remarkable when someone like Vidya bucks the system because she knows it is not just, and through discovering the genesis of her religion, she realizes that such prejudice was never the intention of its founders… an impressive work!”
                         -
Nancy Lee Cecil, Author,  Raising Peaceful Children in a Violent World