Impeccably researched and vividly written, Chandra Prasad’s imaginative novel transports readers to the male-dominated world of 1930s Yale, through the eyes of an unlikely female narrator.
Adele Pietra has heard her mother say that her destiny is carved in the same brilliantly hued granite her father and brother cleave from the quarry of Stony Creek, Connecticut—she is to marry a stonecutter. But when Adele’s brother, Charles, dies unexpectedly, Adele sees the chance to change her life. Enrolling at Yale as Charles, Adele assumes his identity—and gender—as a way to leave behind her mother’s expectations and the limitations of her small town.
Part social history, part adventure tale, and part coming-of-age story, On Borrowed Wings pairs a perennially intriguing theme with a perfectly rendered setting to create an unforgettable and auspicious novel.
Praise for On Borrowed Wings
“Authentically and beguilingly, with admirable daring and wit, Chandra Prasad has written a modern fairy tale that transports her readers to a very particular era and place. She reminds us, importantly, about which things in our world remain constant--and which have changed so swiftly in so little time.”
-Julia Glass, Three Junes and The Whole World Over
“In Adele, Chandra Prasad has created an inspired and timeless heroine whose intelligence, imagination, and determination has you rooting for her from the very first page. Prasad's powerful prose matches the vital, urgent vigor of youth, particularly the bond of friendship. Her novel combines drama and a strong sense of place that provides both a lesson in history and a fine read.”
-Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
“Prasad writes with the skill and confidence of an already-seasoned author.”
-Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban
“In a 1930s Yale bursting with secrets, one student harbors the greatest secret of all. Prasad creates a precisely true landscape of a long-ago world and makes us care deeply for Charlie Pietra's struggle to find a place in it. Almost Shakespearean in its high-stakes gender-bending play, this beautifully wrought novel tenderly reveals the hidden places of town, gown, the body and the heart.”
-Marc Wortman, The Millionaires' Unit
“Lovingly detailed and convincingly narrated, Chandra Prasad's novel offers a lush, deeply satisfying read.”
-Diana Abu-Jaber, Crescent
“Those who lament the death of the plot-driven literary novel will be delighted to discover Chandra Prasad's debut novel, On Borrowed Wings. Written in spare, elegant prose, this gem of a book is both rhetorically and dramatically compelling. It is, in short, a finely crafted page-turner.”
-Jake Halpern, Braving Home
“In sumptuous prose, this novel both instructs and entertains. It crosses boundaries of culture, gender, and class, joyously wrestling with vital questions of life and literature—‘Who are we, and where do we come from?’ At the heart of this brave book, the answer seems to be: We are ourselves, and can live by that alone.”
-Neela Vaswani, Where the Long Grass Bends
“On Borrowed Wings is a poised and unusual first novel, pivoting on the fascinating premise of a young woman posing as her dead brother at Yale. Prasad manages to give us a careful portrait of class, belonging, and prejudice, while keeping us wondering whether such a masquerade can really succeed.”
-Marina Budhos, Ask Me No Questions
“Like its cross-dressing protagonist, Adele Pietra—who disguises herself as her dead brother, Charles, in order to matriculate at all-male Yale in 1936—this novel has two faces, both of them utterly charming: It’s a compelling fish-out-of-water story and a sly commentary on gender and class."
-Natalie Danford, Inheritance