The Baltimore Times presents: The Eighth Annual Women’s History Month Literary Festival

The Sleeping Dictionary

In The Sleeping Dictionary (Gallery Books; On-sale: August 20, 2013; Paperback Original; $16.00), award-winning author Sujata Massey paints a stunning portrait of late Raj India. Set against a background of huge political and cultural upheaval, the book is both a sweeping epic and a passionate love story.

When a tidal wave wipes out a tiny village on Bengal’s southwest coast, a young girl known as Pom is set adrift in the world.

Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, the book follows Pom (later known successively as Sarah, Pamela, and – ultimately- Kamala) on her varied and intriguing post-storm journey.

After being found near death by a charitable British headmistress and her chauffeur, Pom is renamed Sarah and becomes a servant at the Lockwood School for British and upper-caste Indian girls. It is while working at the school that she discovers her gift for languages. When circumstances require her to leave the school, she moves to the larger town of Kharagpur where she inadvertently falls into a secret, decadent world. Eventually, she lands in Calcutta, renames herself Kamala, and creates a new life rich in books and friends.

Although success and passionate romance are within reach, she remains trapped by what she is…and is not. As India struggles the throw off imperial rule, Kamala uses her hard-won skills— for secrecy, languages, and reading the unspoken gestures of those around her— to fight for her country’s freedom and her own happiness.

In “The Sleeping Dictionary,” Massey – who USA Today has called a “gifted storyteller – presents a magnificent saga of the last days of Raj India… and a woman who dares to assault the barriers of race and caste. Misty Copeland in her beautifully written memoir

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

Misty Copeland is the first African-American soloist in the last two decades at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Her new memoir, LIFE IN MOTION: An Unlikely Ballerina (Touchstone Hardcover / Simon & Schuster; March 4, 2014; $24.99; ISBN: 9781476737980), written with award-winning journalist Charisse Jones, shares Copeland’s inspiring journey to become a world-class ballerina, illuminating the fascinating world of professional ballet.

Copeland paints a vivid picture of her nomadic, at times painful, past. As one of six siblings in San Pedro, California, her love of movement began with listening to Mariah Carey and New Edition, and mimicking gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s floor routines in her mother’s bedroom. Her drill team coach introduced her to Cyhthia Bradley, a dance teacher at the Boys and Girls Club where Misty and her brothers and sisters routinely spent their afternoons. Bradley nurtured 13-year old Misty’s love of dance and taught her the basics of ballet – pirouettes, plies, and jetes. Shockingly, Misty performed them with the ease of a girl who’d been training for years. She was dancing en pointe in just months, and soon moved in with the Bradley family to focus on ballet. Misty Copeland was a prodigy.

“Life in Motion” is a multilayered memoir that transcends the boundaries of the traditional ballet biography – it’s not just a ballerina’s story, but instead a unique American story of perseverance and achievements in the face of adversity by an author who is truly one of a kind.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry

In ‘”Til the Well Runs Dry” we meet Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed sixteen-year-old seamstress who lives alone with two small boys in a seaside village in 1943 Trinidad – and she’s guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karman, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits help from a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her affections), the rewards and risks in Marcia’s life being to multiply.

Starting on an island rich with laughter, calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, “‘Til the Well Runs Dry” sees Marcia and Farouk from their sassy and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in scandal, and put the future in doubt for all of them.

With this deeply human, page-turning debut, Lauren Francis-Sharma shows a spirited woman’s adore for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is the story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.