Monday, October 13, 2008


I'm going on a mini-tour this week! Here is the information:
Thursday Oct 16th 10:30 a.m. at Politics and Prose, Washington DC
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW; ph: 202 364 1919
Friday, Oct 17th 2:00 p.m. at VIMS, Gloucester Point, VA 23062
1208 Greate Road; ph: 804 684 7000
Friday, Oct 17th 5:30 p.m. at The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Washington 201 (old campus); for more information contact 757 221 2457
Saturday, Oct 18th 5:00 p.m. at Big Blue Marble Books, Philadelphia, PA
551, Carpenter Lane; ph: 215 844 1870
Sunday, Oct 19th 2:00 p.m. at Books of Wonder, New York City
18, West 18th Street; ph: 212 989 3270
The book will be on sale at all the events, which are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blog Book Tour


I'll be stopping at other blogs to speak about Climbing the Stairs - trying to cover a slightly different theme that relates to the novel each day for the next two weeks. Here's the schedule!

  1. Thursday, May 22nd. Overview of the book and the different themes in the book, questions/issues of current and historical relevance raised in CLIMBING THE STAIRS, and information about writing and publishing at
  2. Friday, May 23rd. Exploring issues of faith, culture and colonization in CLIMBING THE STAIRS; Gandhi and Martin Luther King at Olugbemisola Perkovich’s blog (author of Eight Grade Superzero, coming in 2009).
  3. Saturday, May 24th. Travel, living in different Indian cities and different countries, how this has influenced my writing at
  4. Sunday, May 25th. Being a writing mom, finding time to write, parenthood and writing at
  5. Monday, May 26th. Where were the British colonies during WWII? A few funky facts I unearthed while doing background research for CLIMBING THE STAIRS at author Laura Purdie Salas’s blog.
  6. Tuesday, May 27th. CLIMBING THE STAIRS. The process of writing the novel, weaving together the different threads.
  7. Wednesday, May 28th. Oceanography, research and CLIMBING THE STAIRS. Making my schizophrenia work to my advantage. My (at least two) personalities. What it’s like to spend your 21st birthday on a research vessel at author Greg Fishbone’s blog.
  8. Thursday, May 29th. What exactly is that dot on the forehead all about? Arranged marriages, Women in India in the 1940’s, Indian marriages today, gender equality issues in CLIMBING THE STAIRS, anything else you ever wanted to know about India at author Carrie Jones’s blog.
  9. Friday, May 30th. The grand finale. Moving to America, Becoming an American, Multicultural writing at author Mitali Perkins’s blog.

Climbing the stairs - REVIEWS


From Institutional Review Journals

… an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change… In an author’s note, Venkatraman comments on several elements of the novel, including Ghandhi’s nonviolent revolution, Indian volunteers in the British Army during World War II, and her family history…The striking cover art, which suggests Vidya’s isolation as well as the unusual setting, will draw readers to this vividly told story…


…Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel set in India during WWII…More than a feisty Cinderella story (and yes, Vidya does find a prince), this novel vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances…

STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

…Opening with the festival of Krishna Jayanthi, Venkatraman so skillfully weaves Hindu words, traditions, and religious festivals into her story that readers understand the vocabulary and appreciate the beliefs…Vidya achieves the psychic distance to ponder cultural and religious similarities and differences by way of her philosophically minded appa and her Jewish best friend. Mention of the indigo famine, of racism…and of “Ahimsa”, the tradition of nonviolence, bring Indian history to life on the page. With a delightfully strong female protagonist who struggles between tradition and the values she holds dear, this novel will capture the imaginations of many readers…

VOYA, 5 Q, 4 P review (“for all intents and purposes, this rating is the same as a STAR” says my editor)

…The novel excels in its detailed depiction of a Brahmin girlhood and family life during a time of intense social and political change…


…This is a poignant look at a young woman’s vigilance to break from expectations and create her own destiny amid a country’s struggle for independence…

School Library Journal

…After reading this fine, often heart-breaking novel, I noticed that it’s for “young adults.” Well, I’m a “youngish adult” and I loved it…

Sam Coale, The Providence Journal

…Readers who ignore such labels will find a rich, complex story…The book explores many themes – a young girl’s coming of age; feminism, colonialism; and the Hindu tenets of nonviolence…

Betty Cotter, The South County Independent

…A bestseller may be born in Westerly on Thursday…

Marshall Williams, The Westerly Sun

…an outstanding debut novel…

Dr. Susan Stan, Professor of English, Central Michigan University

…I couldn't put it down…It was so wonderful, well written, and I marveled at how you navigated the historical and political context, commenting and using it as a backdrop without letting it overwhelm the story…So many threads beautifully woven together…I like it that you never make the easy choices (or your character doesn't), and the way she needs to navigate her pride…The ending was so satisfying, as well, the way she learns and grows…

Kelly Easton, Author, Hiroshima Dreams

Anonymous reader reviews:

…I couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it…

…I thoroughly enjoyed the book…an exciting read…an exceptional job…

… I read Climbing the Stairs with fascination…a valuable novel…

…Your book is an outstanding one. Congratulations!…

…a fascinating and appealing story…

…Venkatraman portrays the highly individualized Vidya in a way that the reader can immediately connect to her…The plot is thrilling and I found myself having a hard time putting the book down… This is one of the best historical fiction novels I have read. ..The balance between plot and history makes it so enjoyable...I would most definitely recommend this book to any reader, especially one who loves historical fiction…

…I started your book over the weekend and 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…Maybe you can write a sequel!.. I love that you mixed in so much of the historical context, but also I got to learn more about Hinduism and the Indian culture and festivals…Many congratulations on an impressive work!...I just loved the book and will purchase copies for friends…

Links to online news and reviews:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Climbing the Stairs - Author Events

Book reading/signing events scheduled for CLIMBING THE STAIRS
Thursday May 1 The Other Tiger Bookstore, Westerly, RI, 3:00-5:00
Tuesday May 6 University of Rhode Island, Multicultural Center, 12:00-2:00
Saturday May 17 Barrington Books, Barrington, RI, 2:00 p.m.
Sunday May 18 Front Steet Books, Scituate, MA, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday May 31 Books on the Square, Providence, RI, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Jun 14 Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, MA, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Jun 28 Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT, 3:00 p.m.
There will be Indian Music, Indian Food, and Indian Art and Craft activities at most of the above events.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Climbing the Stairs - Synopsis

My debut novel, Climbing the Stairs, is already available for purchase online at major retailers such as It should be widely available at INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES and chains by May 1st. It was the subject of a recent article "Professor is always Plotting" in the Providence Journal - Thursday 6 Feb; click on the far left tab - news, cities and towns, North Kingstown, or paste this link into your browser:
Here's the flap copy in case you'd like to know something more about the novel:


Fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of going to college, an unusual proposition for a girl living in British-occupied India during World War II. When tragedy strikes, Vidya and her brother Kitta are forced to move into a traditional household with her grandfather and her extended family, where men live separately upstairs and the women who live below are meant to be married, not educated.

Breaking the rules, Vidya finds refuge in her grandfather’s second-floor library. There she meets Raman, a young man also living in the house. Surprisingly, he treats her like an equal and encourages her intellectual curiosity. But soon it’s clear Raman wants more than just friendship, and when Kitta makes a shocking choice the family cannot condone, Vidya’s life becomes a whirlwind of personal and political complications. Will she be strong enough to survive the storm?

With the lush settings and heady emotions that mark the best Indian literature, Padma Venkatraman’s debut novel is an epic story of love and loss set against a unique moment in history. Readers of all ages will find deep empathy with Vidya as she battles between ideas and emotions while struggling to pursue her dreams.

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

a division of

Penguin Young Readers Group

345 Hudson Street

New York, NY 10014