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Continued: Far East meets Midwest in Minnesota library on South Asia

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 19, 2013 - 3:52 PM

Another reason scholars are drawn to the library is that the information is so accessible. “If you go to India, you’ll spend half your time negotiating just to get in,” Faust said.

Massey emphatically seconded that. After finishing her research in Minnesota, she went to Calcutta, where she was greeted with anything but open arms at the National Library of India.

“It was crazy,” she said. “I’d written them several times and gotten together every document I could think of, but they still wouldn’t let me in. Finally my cousin and my aunt — my aunt’s a real powerhouse — went with me and managed to convince them to give me a pass.”

She also went to London hoping to explore the India Office archives in the British Library. That turned out to be almost as difficult. “They finally let me in after I proved that I’d had a book published in Britain,” she said.

She isn’t done using the information she got in the Ames Library. While writing “The Sleeping Dictionary,” she realized that she had the makings of more books.

“Toward the end of working on the book, I felt very much like telling more about the other characters and what happens to them next,” she said. “I’m fascinated by Indian political history and the history of women in India. I’d love to do something combining those two.”

That most likely will involve even more trips to the Ames Library. “I love doing research,” she admitted.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

  • related content

  • Sujata Massey held “The Sleeping Dictionary,” her historical novel set in India. Though fiction, the book is heavy with facts that Massey uncovered in the University of Minnesota’s Ames Library of South Asia, a place many scholars consider the best resource for information about India outside of India.

  • Massey spent many hours in the library’s stacks, often just pulling books off the shelf and paging through them. “I don’t like doing keyword searches” on computers, she said. “You miss too much that way.”

  • Sujata Massey based one of the characters in her book on library founder Charles Lesley Ames, who worked for West Publishing Co. He became fascinated with India at the turn of the 20th century and started collecting everything he could, including government reports.

  • A reading from ‘the Sleeping dictionary’

    What: Sujata Massey reads from her novel “The Sleeping Dictionary.”

    When: 7 p.m. Tue.

    Where: Once Upon a Crime, 604 W. 26th St., Minneapolis.

    Admission: Free.

    More information: 612-870-3785.

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