Chinatown Days by Rita Chowdhury
Available on Amazon
Originally published in Assamese as Makam, the novel won the Sahitya Akademi award
It is the early nineteenth century. The British East India Company has been bringing in Chinese indentured labourers to work in the tea gardens of Assam and West Bengal. Amidst days of misery and toil, they slowly begin to find contentment in their day-to-day lives. Descended from the slave Ho Han, Mei Lin lives a life of satisfaction with her husband Pulok Barua. But in 1962, as war breaks out in the high Himalayas between India and China, a close family member conspires to have Mei Lin deported to Maoist China. She and thousands of other Chinese Indians will now have to fend for themselves in a land that, despite their origins, is strangely foreign. Can Mei Lin ever return to Pulok again, or to the streets of Makum, her hometown?
From the horror-ridden hardships of the labour pens of Assam to the Sino-Indian war, this searing novel tells the unforgettable story of the Chinese Indians, a community condemned by intolerance to obscurity and untold sorrow."