The Private Life of Mrs Sharma

Ratika Kapur (Author)


Renuka Sharma is a dutiful wife, mother, and daughter-in-law holding the fort in a modest rental in Delhi while her husband tries to rack up savings in Dubai. Working as a receptionist and committed to finding a place for her family in the New Indian Dream of air-conditioned malls and high paid jobs at multi-national companies, life is going as planned until the day she strikes up a conversation with an uncommonly self-possessed stranger at a Metro station. Because while Mrs. Sharma may espouse traditional values, India is changing all around her, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if she came out of her shell a little, would it?

With equal doses of humor and pathos, The Private Life of Mrs Sharma is a sharp-eyed examination of the clashing of tradition and modernity, from a dramatic new voice in Indian fiction.

Product Details

Bloomsbury Publishing
Publish Date
December 13, 2016
5.9 X 0.5 X 9.1 inches | 0.6 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Ratika Kapur's first novel, Overwinter, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Elle magazine's Indian edition included her in a Granta-inspired list of twenty writers under forty to look out for from South Asia. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and son.


"Renu, the mesmerizing narrator in Ratika Kapur's The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma, has a gift for self-deception. It is baffling, then funny, and then quite poignant to witness . . . . The story [The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma] tells is taut, focused; its wider setting, the new India, pops with life. But the real star of this show is Renu, the Mrs. Sharma of the book's title. She starts in one dimension, then gradually plumps into three." - The New York Times

"[Mrs. Sharma's] words reveal a dignity more private and complex than society can perceive. The book is worthwhile, and quick to read--perfect for your train ride to work." - The New York Times Book Review

"[Sharma's] fraught, often humorous and irreverent narration is a study in cognitive dissonance, in which she is constantly trying to reconcile the complex stimuli of Delhi with the image of herself as a simple woman from a good family. Even as cultural products can feel increasingly generic in our technologically advanced global marketplace, Kapur proves that a gifted writer can still powerfully capture a complex voice from a singular place and time." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews

"The battle between then and now comes alive in Kapur's novel of life in an evolving India. Renuka's inner conflict mirrors that of her nation's battle to participate in an increasingly global world while maintaining traditions and cultural heritage. A beautiful, tragic, and highly recommended work by a writer previously long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize." - Booklist

"In Mrs. Sharma, Ms. Kapur has fashioned a memorably double-sided character for a novel that, like a gathering storm, changes before your eyes from soft light to enveloping darkness." - Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"If you're ready for ravishing glimpses into the secret passions of a contemporary yet traditional Indian wife, mother and medical worker who takes a lover, you'll adore The Private Life of Mrs Sharma." - Elle

"Mrs. Sharma's mounting omissions to her family will have you tearing through the pages of this provocative novel." - Marie Claire

"The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma is an impressive decoy of a novel, with a narrator whose look-over-here instincts inadvertently draw the reader's attention to what's behind every curtain." - The Rumpus

"An absolute treat . . . this is a book you'll be tempted to read in one sitting." - Bustle, "8 Best Fiction Books Coming Out This December That Are Perfect For Holiday Snuggles"

"The first-person peregrinations of Renuka Sharma . . . reveal both a wry, honest voice and a perceptive witness." -, "7 Books You Need to Read This December"

"One sign of a great novel is an ending that seems shocking when you read it but entirely inevitable when you look back over the events of the book . . . The Private Life of Mrs Sharma delivers this punch both emotionally and in terms of its plot. Tender and funny . . . [Kapur] is a gifted writer . . . The author's language is vivid and brutally honest . . . a razor-sharp take on gender and economic inequalities." - Irish Times

"Clever, wise . . . wonderfully funny . . . an easy pleasure to read . . . I will remember this book for years to come. The points it makes about motherhood, responsibility and self-deception are all so close to home . . . The feel of contemporary Indian life, caught between tradition and modernity, is brilliantly captured." - Newsday

"In Ratika Kapur's compelling tale, narrator Renu is in need of fulfillment. While her husband tries to make it in Dubai, she remains in Delhi, feeling trapped and alone. Her escape: an affair with a magnetic stranger she meets on her commute." - US Weekly

"This delightfully funny novel delivers a serious message about what happens when our responsibilities push us to the breaking point." - People, "Book of the Week"

"A unique and original new voice in Indian English fiction." - The Hindu

"A universal tale for our times . . . A novel that should speak to women everywhere." - The National (UAE)