Karma and Other Stories

Karma and Other Stories

4.3 6
by Rishi Reddi
     
 

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In this sparkling collection, award-winning writer Rishi Reddi weaves a multigenerational tapestry of interconnected lives, depicting members of an Indian American community struggling to balance the demands of tradition with the allure of Western life.

In "Lord Krishna," a teenager is offended when his evangelical history teacher likens the Hindu deity to Satan,

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Overview

In this sparkling collection, award-winning writer Rishi Reddi weaves a multigenerational tapestry of interconnected lives, depicting members of an Indian American community struggling to balance the demands of tradition with the allure of Western life.

In "Lord Krishna," a teenager is offended when his evangelical history teacher likens the Hindu deity to Satan, but ultimately forgives the teacher against his father's wishes. In the title story, "Karma," an unemployed professor rescues birds in downtown Boston after his wealthy brother kicks him out of his home. In "Justice Shiva Ram Murthy," which appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2005, an irascible retired judge reconnects with a childhood friend while adjusting to a new life with his daughter and her American husband. In "Devadasi," a beautiful young woman raised in the United States travels back to India and challenges the sexual confines of her culture. And in "Bangles," a widow decides to return to her native village to flee her son's off-putting American ways.

Set mostly in the Boston area, with side trips to an isolated immigrant community in Wichita, Kansas, and the characters' hometown of Hyderabad, India, Karma and Other Stories introduces a luminous new voice.

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Editorial Reviews

Arthur Golden
“Only the finest writers can craft short stories with the richness of a novel...[an] exceptional debut collection.”
Kiran Desai
“Sad, sweet, tender--a truly lovely book.”
Judith Guest
“Rishi Reddi has written a unique and beautiful book with the power to both entertain and educate.”
Binnie Kirshenbaum
“Reddi’s characters are complicated people...and, as are the stories they inhabit, memorable and very worthy of our attention. Exquisite.”
Boston Magazine
"Reddi is the brightest light in Boston’s latest literary constellation."
Indian Express
“...superb debut collection... much like Jhumpa Lahiri…a gem of a book…characters remain etched in memory…”
India Currents
“Reddi has produced a piece of writing that masterfully contrasts the assumed with the experienced, myth with reality.”
Boston magazine
“Reddi is the brightest light in Boston’s latest literary constellation.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[A]mong such time-tested topics of immigrant fiction, Reddi suddenly soars.”
Washington Post
“While many of the stories seem simple, characters and plots linger long after you turn the page.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“In deceptively simple prose...a compassionate look at what happens when the insular world of the Indian immigrant is breached.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“…reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri... The immigrant experience...is rendered with the starkest honesty… substance and depth.”
The New Yorker
“Reddi’s understated prose and her choice of detail give her revelations a quiet power.”
Booklist
“This excellent debut collection... [offers] elegant studies of a culture that is both familiar and foreign.”
Publishers Weekly

Set primarily in Boston and its suburbs, Reddi's debut focuses on individuals and families struggling to reconcile their Indian diaspora backgrounds with American life, while attempting to preserve their small, at times contentious ethnic communities. Often generational differences are the root of conflict—in "Bangles," a successful American doctor tries to fulfill his duty by bringing his newly widowed mother from Hyderabad to his upscale suburban home, but fails to make space in his young family's life for her religious and cultural needs. In "The Validity of Love," a rebellious but fragile young woman must examine the extent to which she's internalized traditional ideas of Indian marriage when her best friend willingly enters into an arranged engagement. In other cases, the conflict is an economic one: in the title story, unemployed Shankar Balareddy, frustrated and angered by his younger brother's callous success, searches for redemption from a youthful misdeed. While her themes are familiar, Reddi deftly employs images to crystallize them: a set of red glass bracelets smashed with a rock, a wounded bird confused by Boston's skyscrapers, even a bean-and-cheese burrito, all call to mind the isolation and occasional bewilderment shared by her sympathetic characters. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
The Indian community in and around Boston is explored in seven loosely linked stories. Indian-born Reddi takes on the not-unfamiliar territory of culture clash, charting the conflict between traditional values and modern, Western mores. Her stories are occasionally comic, more often pensive, even melancholic, highlighting the contrast between those immigrants who have adjusted to a new life in America and those still struggling and out of place. In "Justice Shiva Ram Murthy," two elderly friends respond differently to a minor fracas in a fast-food restaurant. In "Bangles," another elderly protagonist-Arundhati, a widow-moves to this "new city, new country, new life" to live with her son, only to find that she must go against duty and custom herself in order to make life tolerable. In the title story, an unemployed professor of colonial history searches for work and independence from his more successful brother, only to find himself rescuing-in an act of neat symbolism-damaged migrating birds. In "The Validity of Love," two young, Westernized women respond with shared dismissiveness on the subject of arranged marriages, then find their opinions diverging; while in "Devadasi," another young woman, on a trip to Hyderabad, finds herself comparing and contrasting Indian and American male behavior, and her space within the differing cultures. Reddi's voice is gentle and her eye watchful, and the dilemmas of her often-isolated characters are by no means solely those of the immigrant community. A soft-spoken, sympathetic collection. Agent: Maria Massie/InkWell Management

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060898823
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/27/2007
Series:
P.S. Series
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,278,012
Product dimensions:
8.04(w) x 5.44(h) x 0.64(d)

What People are saying about this

Binnie Kirshenbaum
“Reddi’s characters are complicated people...and, as are the stories they inhabit, memorable and very worthy of our attention. Exquisite.”
Judith Guest
“Rishi Reddi has written a unique and beautiful book with the power to both entertain and educate.”
Kiran Desai
“Sad, sweet, tender—a truly lovely book.”

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