My Family and Other Saints

Overview

In 1969, young Kirin Narayan’s older brother, Rahoul, announced that he was quitting school and leaving home to seek enlightenment with a guru. From boyhood, his restless creativity had continually surprised his family, but his departure shook up everyone— especially Kirin, who adored her high-spirited, charismatic brother.

A touching, funny, and always affectionate memoir, My Family and Other Saints traces the reverberations of Rahoul's spiritual journey through the entire ...

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Overview

In 1969, young Kirin Narayan’s older brother, Rahoul, announced that he was quitting school and leaving home to seek enlightenment with a guru. From boyhood, his restless creativity had continually surprised his family, but his departure shook up everyone— especially Kirin, who adored her high-spirited, charismatic brother.

A touching, funny, and always affectionate memoir, My Family and Other Saints traces the reverberations of Rahoul's spiritual journey through the entire family. As their beachside Bombay home becomes a crossroads for Westerners seeking Eastern enlightenment, Kirin’s sari-wearing American mother wholeheartedly embraces ashrams and gurus, adopting her son’s spiritual quest as her own. Her Indian father, however, coins the term “urug”—guru spelled backward—to mock these seekers, while young Kirin, surrounded by radiant holy men, parents drifting apart, and a motley of young, often eccentric Westerners, is left to find her own answers. Deftly recreating the turbulent emotional world of her bicultural adolescence, but overlaying it with the hard-won understanding of adulthood, Narayan presents a large, rambunctious cast of quirky characters. Throughout, she brings to life not just a family but also a time when just about everyone, it seemed, was consumed by some sort of spiritual quest.

“A lovely book about the author's youth in Bombay, India. . . . The family home becomes a magnet for truth-seekers, and Narayan is there to affectionately document all of it.”—Body + Soul
 

“Gods, gurus and eccentric relatives compete for primacy in Kirin Narayan's enchanting memoir of her childhood in Bombay.”—William Grimes, New York Times

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Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
"Gods, gurus and eccentric relatives compete for primacy in Kirin Narayan's enchanting memoir of her childhood in Bombay (present-day Mumbai). The title, which alludes to Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals, originated as an act of revenge. Ms. Narayan, fed up with the family penchant for ashrams and spiritual quests, turned to her mother and warned, "When I grow up I’m going to write a book called My Family and Other Saints and put you in it." And so she did."
—The New York Times
New York Times
Gods, gurus, and eccentric relatives compete for primacy in Kirin Narayan's enchanting memoir of her childhood in Bombay."—William Grimes, New York Times

— William Grimes

Body + Soul
“A lovely book about the author's youth in Bombay, India. Her stable family is rattled when the author's older brother announces he’s off to seek wisdom from a guru. Their mother’s all for it; their father’s skeptical. The family home becomes a magnet for truth-seekers, and Narayan is there to affectionately document all of it.”
Shelf Awareness
Narayan has created a portrait of [her family] that is realistic in its depiction of their flaws and foibles but generous and always loving. . . . Narayan . . . finds the wonder and joy in her family's journey and presents it to us with insight and grace.

— Debra Ginsberg

New York Times - William Grimes
"Gods, gurus, and eccentric relatives compete for primacy in Kirin Narayan's enchanting memoir of her childhood in Bombay."—William Grimes, New York Times
Judith Barrington
My Family and Other Saints echoes Gerald Durrell’s classic memoir, My Family and Other Animals, not only in its title, but in its wonderful humor and lyrical prose. Like Durrell, Kirin Narayan takes the reader to a fascinating world far from our own, and brings to life its myriad sights, sounds and smells, while revealing the profound cultural beliefs of its people. India is just the most complex character among a cast of characters—family members, gurus, hippies, and neighbors—all of whom I now count as old friends.”—Judith Barrington, author of Lifesaving: A Memoir and Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
"An engrossing account of a childhood spent with Indian gurus and their American disciples. Enlightenment and growing up are tossed together in the riotous and tender household presided over by Didi, Narayan, and an extended circle of family and friends. Kirin Narayan's impressive gifts of memory, imagination, and storytelling  carry us into this unexpected world of 'crazy saints;' the journey is so much fun that it's hard to put the book down."
Ann Grodzins Gold
"Kirin Narayan brings her detailed powers of observation and nuanced description, together with her insightful and humorous appreciation of human beings as quirky individuals and products of their cultures, to present us with a few years in the history of her own family. These are extraordinary years and an extraordinary family, and this delightful and unique memoir documents much more than growing up acutely observant in a turbulent household. It also brings to life an era now almost mythical, when American and European hippies and seekers poured into India looking for many kinds of experiences. I loved this book."
Shelf Awareness - Debra Ginsberg
"Narayan has created a portrait of [her family] that is realistic in its depiction of their flaws and foibles but generous and always loving. . . . Narayan . . . finds the wonder and joy in her family's journey and presents it to us with insight and grace."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226568218
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 246
  • Sales rank: 1,310,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kirin Narayan is the author of Storytellers, Saints, and Scoundrels, Mondays on the Dark Night of the Moon, and the novel Love, Stars, and All That. A former Guggenheim fellow, she is professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Table of Contents

The Hook

1. Gods’ Eyes
2. Crazy Saints
3. The Seven-Horned Mountain
4. Blind Blue Heavens, Pure Blue Light
5. Fused Doubles
6. Doorways
7. Gurus and Urugs
8. Mrs. Contractor’s Eldest Unmarried Daughter
9. Conjunctions
10. The Moon Pearl
11. At the Border
12. Twin Goddess

The Clasp

List of illustrations

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