A review by rashmig
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

dark emotional funny reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


First and foremost, what struck me was the way it captures the complexity of female friendships. Geeta and Saloni, our central characters, have a childhood friendship that’s evolved into something different in adulthood. This dynamic is intriguingly contrasted with Geeta’s relationships with her other women friends, like Farah, Priya, Preeti, and Khushi. The vulnerability that Geeta can share with Saloni is unique and heartwarming, but she fulfills other needs with her adult friendships that bring their own special qualities.

Now, let’s talk about the women in this story and their independent working lives. The book beautifully portrays the way they navigate their careers, sharing experiences and providing support. What’s even more striking is how it delves into the shared traumatic experiences these women endure. The author’s writing truly hits home when it showcases these experiences as an unfortunate reality, highlighting societal issues like acid attacks, domestic abuse, and gender power imbalances.

I also want to mention the heartwarming snippets of the bond between Geeta and Bandit, her dog. Their relationship adds depth and warmth to the story, with Geeta being fiercely protective of her furry companion.

Throughout the novel, we see these women striving to live their lives on their own terms, but they face numerous challenges imposed by society or their circumstances. Geeta’s experience as a single woman with a complicated marital past and Saloni’s juggling act between family, work, and a seat in the village’s senate are just a few examples. The way they support each other through these struggles is a testament to the strength of female bonds.

Now, let’s touch on the theme of male entitlement and the prevalence of abusive behavior. The book doesn’t shy away from portraying the harsh reality that many women face, where most men are perpetrators of emotional, physical, mental, and sexual abuse. However, the story also highlights a few exceptions like Kareem and Sarah, who treat women with respect and empathy.

The novel briefly delves into the issue of caste, which might feel a bit tangential at first, but it soon merges seamlessly with the broader theme of women’s issues, offering a layered perspective on societal challenges.

Despite the heavy themes, Parini Shroff manages to infuse humor into her storytelling, making the book a breeze to read. I found myself chuckling in various places, and the climax of the novel even features some dark comedy at its finest.

In conclusion, “Bandit Queens” is a thought-provoking and brilliantly written book that seamlessly weaves together themes of female friendship, independent working women, vulnerability, shared trauma, humor, and societal challenges. It’s an impressive debut work from Parini Shroff that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking a compelling and impactful read. So, add it to your reading list—you won’t be disappointed!

Expand filter menu Content Warnings