A People's History of Heaven

Pages: 304
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

A People's History of Heaven

Mathangi Subramanian

A dazzling tribute to the resilience and determination of a remarkable community of women, for fans of Shantaram and Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The Book



A dazzling tribute to the resilience and determination of a remarkable community of women

In the sprawling Bangalore slum of Heaven, five girls - Muslim, Christian and Hindu; gay and straight - form an unbreakable bond. These are girls who refuse to be silenced, no matter how much their city would like to forget they exist. But now Heaven is threatened by government bulldozers, and the friends must come together to protect the close-knit, vibrant community they call home. 

Sparkling with passion and courage and laced with humour, this is the story of five unforgettable young women and their fierce determination, not only to survive, but to triumph.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 304
Imprint Oneworld



‘A warm, buoyant celebration of womanhood, humanity and solidarity.'

- Herald, Scotland

‘The women are not there for our pity; they are there to be listened to. How refreshing.'

- New York Times Book Review

‘Subramanian writes with empathy and exuberance, offering a much-needed glimpse into a world that too many of us don't even know exists. This is a book to give your little sister, your mother, your best friend, yourself, so together you can celebrate the strength of women and girls, the tenacity it takes to survive in a world that would rather have you disappear.'

- Nylon

‘Subramanian's observations are sharp, witty, and incisive; her writing is consistently gorgeous. She is passionate about the plight of Indian girls subjected to a patriarchal system that ruthlessly oppresses and devalues them... In depicting the societal ills that oppress India's women, Subramanian refuses to acquiesce to the plot that fate seems to have written for these girls.'

- Washington Independent Review of Books

'Even through the tragedies of lives lived in incomprehensible harshness, this is a beautifully crafted tale which glows with lyricism, colour and tenderness.'

- Irish Times

‘Subramanian's evocative novel weaves together a diverse, dynamic group of girls to create a vibrant tapestry of a community on the brink.' 

- Publishers Weekly

‘Everything about A People's History of Heaven is wonderful: the lyrical, light touch of the narrator, the story, the humor, and most of all, the girls.'

- Minal Hajratwala, award-winning author of Leaving India

‘A novel with a filmic quality… Brimming with warmth and good humour… quietly raises issues of equality and human rights… A book to savour and to make you smile.'

- New Internationalist

‘A girl power-fueled story that examines some dark social issues with a light . . . touch.'

- Kirkus Reviews

‘How can a novel about a group of daughters and mothers on the verge of losing their homes in a Bangalore slum be one of the most joyful and exuberant books I've read? Subramanian writes without a shred of didacticism or pity, skillfully upending expectations and fiercely illuminating her characters' strength, intelligence, and passionate empathy. A People's History of Heaven should be a case study in how to write political fiction. Each page delighted and amazed me.'

- Heather Abel, author of The Optimistic Decade

‘A colourful, dramatic coming of age story.'

- Ms. Magazine

A People's History of Heaven forefronts human dignity and the intelligence it takes to survive at the intersection of so much society uses to set people apart... Spending time with this fearsome five is...just plain fun.'

- Foreword Reviews

‘Wonderful... The stories of these young women...are full of emotion and drama, and also fierce power and hope. Their relationships and support for one another is inspiring, making this a beautiful testament to friendship and individuality. More LGBTQ+ novels about people of colour, please!'

- BookRiot

‘Poetic... Subramanian's rich imagery conjures up the bustle of a diverse city where children live in poverty mere blocks from three-story homes where their mothers work as maids… As colourful as a Rangoli design, this bittersweet coming-of-age story will linger in the reader's mind.'

- Shelf Awareness

‘Perfect for readers who want to learn more about Indian and South Asian culture, or for readers who love stories featuring strong female friendships.'

- Reading Women podcast

‘What a thrill to read a novel as daring and urgent as A People's History of Heaven. It's a story about defiance in the face of erasure, about the survival tactics of an unforgettable group of girls. I can't remember the last time I encountered a voice of such moral ferocity and compassion.'

- Tania James, author of The Tusk That Did the Damage

‘The power of these fierce young women shines in spite of their circumstances, and they prove just how beautiful and influential a strong, unconditionally accepting community is. Subramanian is a remarkable writer whose vibrant words carry a lot of heart. This inspiring novel is sure to draw in readers with its lyrical prose and endearing characters.'

- Booklist

‘What a remarkable novel this is. The life-affirming story of five young women who live in a Bangalore slum called Heaven... Both their individual stories and their collective warrior spirit will move, inspire and enrich.'

- LoveReading

‘A vibrant novel...a beautiful story of love, loyalty, and female friendship.'

- Hello Giggles