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By: Sheila Varghese

A.H. Avenue Number Three

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This is a story of one family, but it could just as well be the story of any family.

A story with beginnings in different countries, in separate times, narrated by three generations. It moves through three significant historical events, the despair of the 1930s in Germany; the 1940s civil unrest in Ceylon; and the stifling fear of the 1970s in India.

It is a story of the demands of class and caste, education and politics, wealth, and status in the lives of all people. It is symbolic of the pain and grief that all humans endure; the disruption they experience when their best laid plans go awry. But crucially, the innate goodness that lies entrenched in the human heart, causing it to rise above petty prejudices.

Sheila Varghese was born in Bangalore, India.

With many years spent in theological and neo-literate education, she also worked as a freelance columnist, book reviewer and special correspondent for several newspapers in India.

In the 1990s, in a joint project between the Protestants and Roman Catholics, she co-edited a chronologically arranged, condensed version of the Old Testament using the text of the Jerusalem Bible1 with the late Sister Genevieve de Cordove2. The publication was for students in Indian schools.

In 2019, she assisted and contributed to the publication of a book on holy people from outside Europe and the western world, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) of the Church of England3.

A.H. Avenue Number Three is Varghese’s first work of fiction. The different cultural, ethnic, political, religious and social backgrounds described in this novel are known to her firsthand.

1 Genevieve SMMI and Varghese Ramasamy (eds), The Mini Bible: Old Testament (Indore: Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra, 1991).
2 Sr Genevieve de Cordove (1919-1995) was an artist, a nun of the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (SMMI). She was a pioneer in the use of Indian symbols in Christian art.

3 Prentis (ed), Every Tribe: stories of diverse saints serving a diverse world (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 2019).

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