“Intricately plotted, beautifully written, HomeSpun is the story of an Indian family, and of modern India itself. Cinematic in scope and imagery, and with a dark secret at its core that keeps you racing through the pages, it is the brilliant debut of a multiply gifted writer.”
- Suketu Mehta
“An elegant, serpentine story of modern India, HomeSpun is mesmerizing and original. Nilita Vachani has a sure grasp of this world and her characters. Her words weave a delicate, powerful tapestry that possesses you long after the story is over. Superb tale-spinning—a beam of light in contemporary Indian fiction.”
- Mira Nair
“HomeSpun is a warm, sweeping novel full of history, laughter and tears, and generations of characters that dance off the page. Nilita Vachani is a storyteller of the first order.”
- Joe Sacco
“The lives and mysterious deaths of two men connect the myriad characters in this rich first novel which is narrated primarily by Sweta, a child of modern India who also feels the grip of its past- that crushing Gandhian legacy of “frugality and self-denial." Vachani’s absorbing trysts with history (supplemented by a welcome appendix) include lesser-known tidbits like an excerpt from one of Gandhi’s letters to Hitler in which the Mahatma politely urges the Führer to mend his violent ways.
India-born and New York-based documentary filmmaker - and witty new novelist- Vachani applies warm humor to tragic events. She builds not one but several easily visualized characters who find the courage to go against the grain and speak truth to power. The tri-generational epic of broad appeal is a natural catalyst for discussion in a book club setting.”
- Todd Mercer, www.forewordmagazine.com May/June 2008
“Vachani’s debut novel chronicles the lives of several families in the turbulent era preceding and following India’s independence. Like Midnight’s Children, to which readers will inevitably compare it, the scope is panoramic, but Vachani’s tale is more disciplined , never abandoning the real world for realms of magical realism, and tightening its camera lens as the story unfolds rather than loosening it in the manner of Rushdie’s glorious jumble.
HomeSpun is a beautiful and beautifully crafted story about trying to create from an often cold and uncertain world at least a small patch of comfort and certainty, and ultimately accomplishes some measure of both.”
- Man Martin, Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing, 2009, Vol 29, Issue 1, pp 159-161
“Vachani’s lyrical narrative traces the course of an Indian family over three generations from the struggle of the country’s independence, its ensueing wars with neighboring Pakistan and beyond. Sweta Kalra is at the heart of Vachani’s tale, tracing her family’s past through her grandfather’s diary… she’s helped along the way by the memorable Anu, a journalist and feminist whose chronicles of the Indo-Pak war Sweta uncovers while researching her dissertation. Blending journal entries, letters and authentic newspaper clippings, Vachani unravels the family’s tangled history as she makes a damning argument against the evils of colonialism and its lasting effects.”
- Kirkus Reviews April 15, 2008, Vol 76, Issue 8, p.16
“Told largely in retrospect, this ambitious debut by Indian émigré filmmaker Vachani is narrated by Sweta who presides over her family history with equal parts passion and uncertainty. Around her swirl the stories of her grandfparents’ ugly marriage, of her father’s childhood as a film star and of his first love. Most moving is the figure of Nanaji, Sweta’s grandfather, a tender man committed to principles and making the best of the hand he’s dealt. The book opens with his death and front loads the many characters, but Nanaji and Sweta’s poignant relationship pulls the reader through manifold tragedy and serendipity.
- May, Publisher’s Weekly, Mar 10, 2008, Vol 255, Issue 10
“Vachani provides a rich glimpse into the culture of India that is historical as well as personal as she traces the impact India’s struggle for independence has on three generations in one family, and peppers the novel with Hindi words, important Indian figures and authentic events. This means that it takes awhile for Vachani to pull together seemingly disparate story lines but it is ultimately worth the wait.”
- Carolyn Kubisz, Booklist, May 1, 2008, Vol 104, Issue 17, p. 70
“Skilfully braiding generations of an Indian family- their personal, cultural and national struggles, into a fluid first novel, Vachani perfectly reflects the hand-woven cotton tapestries praised by Gandhi. HomeSpun’s fluidity extends to time, character and perspective. Teens will find HomeSpun an engaging introduction to modern India (a thorough historical appendix is included) as well as a highlight of contemporary Indian fiction.”
- Shannon Peterson, School Library Journal, Dec 2008, Vol 54 Issue 12
“HomeSpun escapes precise description, like a vivid dream that borders on the uneasy: characters you can slip into but not fathom entirely; a historical time period, the experience of which alternates between déjà vu and shocking estrangement…
A plot that unravels alternatively in swift bursts and slow unbindings , in the multiple stories of Nilita's characters whom she imbues with the humour of individual quirks and fallacies, as she goes about unravelling the casual ironies of their destinies in the chiaroscuro of history.
Characters are governed not by the machinations of forced symbolism and academic theory, where language is not stilted in the attempt of finding ‘an original voice’, where speech is in the vernacular when the story needs it to be, and not necessarily translated in brackets soon after.”
- First City, Jan 2006
“An intricately woven plot comes full circle after meandering through clever little twists and turns. Crisply written with dollops of humour, Vachani's book is indeed full of history , laughter and tears, and generations of characters that dance off the page.”
- The Telegraph, Dec 2, 2005
“(Vachani) takes some of the biggest myths we've spun around the freedom struggle, around war and around love stories, and refashions them from the inside out. This debut novel has a few flaws but her portrait of a man whose idealism sorely tests his wife, and her look at how a fighter pilot really died are not easily forgotten.”
- Nilanjana Roy, Rediff.Com, Jan 13, 2006
“The Empire's New Clothes: This post-partition Indian family narrative weaves convincing characters into a wide canvas to offer comforting familiarity."
- India Today, Dec 12, 2005
“A Tale of Love and War: Nilita Vachani locates the plot of her debut novel HomeSpun in the Indian national movement depicting how distantly yet inevitably national politics has a bearing on our homesteads.
HomeSpun should not be read for its storyline alone, though it excels in its style of telling. As you finish reading the book, countless small incidents will keep floating in your mind. You will also appreciate the novelty of its plot design. Atypically, it does not make one character its central focus. Lives of important characters take shape in their distinct worlds allowing us to get a better grasp of their perspectives . As they grow older, life’s expediencies take them away, making them intersect with one another.
The prose of HomeSpun is both lucid and unassuming. Once you start reading, you cannot help being carried away. In the same unpretentious tone, the writer tells a fascinating tale of death, love, sex, war and broken dreams. Nilita Vachani is surely a worthy entry to the growing legion of South Asians writing in English, as as this first novel demonstrates, capable of leaving her mark on the literary scene.”
- Zahid Akter, The Daily Star, Jun 3, 2006 Vol. 5 Num 716
"Go read Nilita Vachani's HomeSpun. Elaborate plot, crisp prose and a cast of strong women characters that made me smile more than a couple of times."
- Little Arsonist