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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
In a delicious potpourri of character, subtlety, and wry humor, Lavanya Sankaran slyly reveals the wide chasm between generations and gleefully plots for the inevitable collisions between East, West, young, old, traditional, modern, religious and secular. The inhabitants of her eight perfect stories are natives of Bangalore, a nexus of "beggars and billionaires," and home to a brilliantly diverse cast of characters. There is Ashwini, a recent import from Bombay who is unaware that despite her so-called modern ways and hip talk, she is being sized up for her own suitability for the most provincial of roles: wife. A generation removed and a universe apart, Mr. D'Costa, a local gossip, finds new purpose in his retirement by surveying the neighborhood from his bedroom window. What he sees provokes a courageous and compassionate gesture that nonetheless leaves him feeling helpless and uncertain. Raju, chauffeur to a wealthy socialite, is dismayed when his "May-dum" dons miniskirts and engages in inappropriate talk, but he is just as bewildered by her unexpected acts of kindness.
Whether home is a dusty Bangalore street or a mansion in Chicago, Sankaran's "software lads," Western-educated sons and daughters, traditional parents, and lifelong residents all contribute to the messy, hilarious, but oh-so-recognizable détente that connects generations and cultures. Sharp, tender, and deeply human, The Red Carpet is a remarkable debut. (Summer 2005 Selection)