You Read What? Book Reviews: The Selector of Souls

Author: Shauna Singh Baldwin

Publisher: Random House Canada

  • Imprint: Knopf Canada

Date Published: September 25th, 2012

Format: Hard Cover

Source: Received from Random House Canada at their Bookstravaganza.


The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we’re in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her child with the help of her mother Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows—the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter—haunts the novel.

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong-willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic Church. When Sister Anu comes to Damini’s village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what’s best for women. What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power? If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within.

Number of Days It Took to Read: 9


Gorgeous cover. It’s so eye catching and the texture of it feels like the blue will flack off when it won’t. A beauty for sure and represents the textural richness of India.

The Writing Score: 5 out of 5

Recommendation: Must Read

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating: 5 out of 5


This is an adult contemporary novel and can also be categorized as literary fiction. I got this book in September and decided to read it on my 10 hour drive to Washington, DC during the holiday break. It’s a really long read. I think this the longest I’ve taken to read a book but it’s a book that requires a steady pace to truly appreciate it. The writing is spot on. It’s what carries the book and makes the subject matter come to life. I felt like I could SEE India through the description Baldwin provides us.

First off, I find it interesting that the rape of a young woman in India by a group of men on a bus occurred literally after I finished reading the book. The call to action that followed suit after the incident regarding women’s rights in India is basically the discussion of the book but more specifically 1990s India in which it takes place. I was appalled by the way women were and still are treated in Indian: killing baby girls in preference to boys, the lax views on domestic violence and the “ownership” of women from father to husband. I was…wow. I really wanted to punch people in the face like Anu’s husband Vikas. I’m not a violent person so that should tell you something.

What’s cool was that Baldwin also discussed the discrimination against the minority religions in India (Sikhs, Muslims and Christians) and the caste system which is something I despise with all of my heart. I really enjoyed the read. It’s beautifully written, there’s drama, you get a history lesson (the 1984 Sikh killings), the culture and so on. You have two strong women headlining the story which is a PLUS! I highly recommend this book to everyone.

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

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