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Serving Crazy with Curry [NOOK Book]

Overview

Between the pressures to marry and become a traditional Indian wife and the humiliation of losing her job in Silicon Valley, Devi is on the edge–where the only way out seems to be to jump. . . .

Yet Devi’s plans to “end it all” fall short when she is saved by the last person she wants to see: her mother. Forced to move in with her parents until she recovers, Devi refuses to speak. Instead, she cooks . . . nonstop. And not the usual fare, but ...
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Serving Crazy with Curry

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Overview

Between the pressures to marry and become a traditional Indian wife and the humiliation of losing her job in Silicon Valley, Devi is on the edge–where the only way out seems to be to jump. . . .

Yet Devi’s plans to “end it all” fall short when she is saved by the last person she wants to see: her mother. Forced to move in with her parents until she recovers, Devi refuses to speak. Instead, she cooks . . . nonstop. And not the usual fare, but off the wall twists on Indian classics, like blueberry curry chicken or Cajun prawn biryani. Now family meals are no longer obligations. Devi’s parents, her sister, and her brother-in-law can’t get enough–and they suddenly find their lives taking turns as surprising as the impromptu creations Devi whips up in the kitchen each night. Then a stranger appears out of the blue. Devi, it appears, had a secret–one that touches many a nerve in her tightly wound family. Though exposing some shattering truths, the secret will also gather them back together in ways they never dreamed possible.

Interspersed with mouthwatering recipes, this story mixes humor, warmth, and leap-off-the-page characters into a rich stew of a novel that reveals a woman’s struggle for acceptance from her family and herself.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Poor Devi Veturi, the American-born daughter of traditional Indian parents. She's too Americanized, and she's not compliant like her sister. She also isn't very successful in life, even though she comes from a family of overachievers. Devi is unlucky in love, has lost her job in Silicon Valley, can't pay her bills, and even fails at suicide. But things change when she is forced home to recuperate. Refusing to speak to anyone, Devi invades her mother's kitchen and begins to cook Indian food-her way. What follows is an honest look at how a young Hindu woman, torn between two cultures, reconnects with her family and, more important, with herself. The twist at the end is a bonus. Malladi's third novel (after The Mango Season) will definitely appeal to many readers (a reading group guide is included). Highly recommended for most public libraries. [A Ballantine Reader's Circle selection.]-Marika Zemke, West Bloomfield Twp. P.L., MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Transcontinental family saga about a young Indian immigrant to California who slowly rebuilds her life after a failed suicide attempt. Poor Devi has come to the conclusion that she's a failure: an unendurable thought for the daughter of overachievers. Born in India to a socially prominent family, Devi came to America as a girl when her father, Avi, founded a technology firm that prospered and grew into one of the earliest successes of Silicon Valley. Devi's sister Shobha is the vice president of an engineering firm, and Shobha's husband, Girish, is a professor at Stanford. Devi's mother, Saroj, is a traditional Indian wife and mother, but even she grew up in an atmosphere of success as the daughter of an Indian Army brigadier. So the expectations for Devi are pretty high-which makes good odds for failure, statistically speaking. And she flunks the test with flying colors. To begin with, she is unmarried and has just ended an affair with a married man. Second, she has lost her job in the midst of the NASDAQ crash of the late 1990s. Plus, she has lost a baby that no one knows about. So Devi slits her wrists one morning in her bathtub and settles back to let nature take its course. Fortunately for her, however, her pushy mother likes to drop in unannounced and arrives for a visit in time to call an ambulance. After a close call like that, Devi is returned to her parents' for observation and recovery. Saroj broods over her daughter and begins for the first time to question her own fate as well: an introspection that leads to some unusual developments, as does the revelation of Devi's miscarriage. Things were so much easier back in India. A portrait of expatriate nostalgia, shaded heavily withimmigrant identity angst and generational conflict, by a leading multicultural voice (The Mango Season, 2003, etc.).Agent: Matt Bialer/Trident Media Group
From the Publisher
“A feast of a book, sizzling with the humor and tensions that bind its characters together. Amulya Malladi’s writing is as hot as her protagonist’s fiery cooking.”
–GEMMA TOWNLEY, author of When In Rome… and Little White Lies

“Reading this is like spending time with a warm, witty, and honest friend. Malladi isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues head-on, and above all this is a life–and love–affirming book.”
–SARAH SALWAY, author of The ABCs of Love

“A refreshingly candid portrayal of the Indian immigrant experience in America. At times darkly comic, at others profoundly moving, the characters will linger in your mind long after you turn the final page.”
–KAVITA DASWANI, author of For Matrimonial Purposes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307490742
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/26/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 561,463
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Amulya Malladi has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in journalism. Born and raised in India, she lived in the United States for several years before moving to Denmark, where she now lives on the island of Mors with her husband and young son. You can contact her at www.amulyamalladi.com.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Why does Malladi choose to open the book by discussing the “day it would happen,” specifically delineating Devi’s plans for suicide?
What tone does this choice lend to the narrative? Why do you think the author presents Devi’s decision-making process, instead of opening the book with the suicide attempt itself?

2. What does Devi’s list of reasons to live and die indicate about her values and the problems she faces? Why do you think she commits suicide?

3. Saroj admits that she often “thinks of leaving her family without warning” (p. 15). What holds Saroj back, but propels Devi forward?
How are the two women more similar than either of them would like to admit?

4. How is Saroj traumatized by the discovery of Devi’s almostlifeless body? How does she present her role in foiling the suicide attempt as an accomplishment? Why does Saroj shift the focus to be “all about her”?

5. What is Saroj’s attitude toward each of her daughters? How does she project her own unhappiness upon them? How does each woman deal with the prospect of failure?

6. The comparison between Shobha and Devi literally begins at birth. How does this constant assessment influence each woman’s conception of herself? How does it color their relationship with one another? Why does Saroj value Shobha for being
“easier”?

7. “Instead [they] stood as adversaries,” Saroj says of her marriage
(p. 25). Why has her marriage with Avi crumbled? How are other interfamilial relationships similarly adversarial?

8. How does the relationship between Saroj and her mother, Vasu,
compare with the rapport Saroj has with her own daughters? Why does Saroj resent her mother? What is her attitude toward her father?

9. Why does Devi decide to stop talking? How does this decision mirror the actions she took as a small child? In which ways does her silence liberate her, and how does it hold her back?

10. Why doesn’t Malladi disclose what happened to Avi’s arm at the beginning of the book? How does his disability inform his behavior and influence his choices, particularly the decision to come to
America?

11. At first, what about Avi is so endearing to Saroj, and vice versa?
How have they both changed since the early years of their marriage?

12. “Life is so much fun,” writes Avi in an unsent letter to Devi
( p. 69). How has each character in Serving Crazy with Curry fallen away from embracing the good things in life? Who comes closest to reclaiming a sense of joy in the book?

13. Much to her mother’s dismay, Devi takes over cooking duties from Saroj after she moves back in. What does the kitchen reprea sent to both mother and daughter? Why does Devi start to cook?
Do you think that she’s always wanted to? How is it a collaborative process for each of them, and how is each proprietary over the act?

14. How is adjusting to the United States difficult for Saroj? Does Avi feel the same way? In which ways are their children traditionally
“Indian,” and how do they identify more with their American contemporaries?

15. Why does Saroj blame America for all her problems? How does she idealize India? How does she embrace all things traditional,
from the relationship she wants with her son-in-law to the food she cooks?

16. In which ways do Shobha’s feminist beliefs belie her feelings about love? How is she a risk-taker, and in which ways would she prefer to play it safe? How does Shobha’s firing jar her “perfect world”? What about this event spurs her to break up her marriage?

17. How is Vasu a loving woman? In which ways is she selfish, especially in regard to her family? What does she value the most in life?

18. Vasu refers to Saroj’s photographs as depicting a “contrived family.”
What comprises Saroj’s vision of a perfect family unit, and how does this dream differ from reality? How is Vasu’s conception of family more unconventional, and how has this both strengthened and weakened her family bonds?

19. How do the characters in the book identify themselves by what they do, and by what they have accomplished or stand to accomplish?
How do each of them react when they are at loose ends occupationally?
Why doesn’t Saroj work? Do you think she regrets the decision to not finish her education?

20. How does Saroj become a more sympathetic character as the novel unfolds? What do you learn about her that makes her less of a one-dimensional “nag,” as Devi classifies her? Why does Saroj confront Avi about the problems in their marriage? What does this accomplish?

21. Were you surprised to learn of Devi’s miscarriage? How does her family react to the news? Do you think she could have told them about it before she tried to commit suicide? Why or why not?

22. Were you surprised to learn that the father of Devi’s baby was
Girish? What do you think might have happened if she had carried the baby to term?

23. Are you surprised by Shobha’s reaction to Devi’s affair with
Girish? Do you think Shobha’s attitude will change over time, or have the sisters really breached a chasm in their relationship?

24. Do you think that Devi will ever tell the rest of her family about her affair with Girish? In which ways are Shobha and Girish well suited for one another? Devi and Girish?

25. How is writing cathartic for Avi and for Devi? Why does Devi write down the ingredients of her recipes? Is this just a cookbook journal or is it more?

26. What do you think will happen after the story ends, especially in the unfolding of relationships? Do you think that there’s any chance of a Devi-Girish pairing? Why or why not?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    EXPECTED MORE

    I must admit I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I didn't like the language Shobha used, made her character seem "unlikable". The difficult mother/daughter relationship between Ssroj and Vasu was sad, but the relationship between the main character Devi and her family was very uplifting for me. I did not enjoy this book but will continue to read more from Amulya Malladi! Maybe I found this one to unrealistic for an Indian family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2011

    fantastic read

    a longtime favorite of mine, this is a wonderful book on many levels . . . mental health, relationships with parents, boyfriends and self. highly recommended. well written and engaging.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2008

    I couldn't put this book down

    I enjoyed reading this book more than the other one (The Mango Season). It made me cry. I also want to try the recipes in the novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2006

    Enjoyable read

    I just finished this book and while at times it could be quite sad, the overall effect was a positive one. Have recommended this book to family members to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Espeons place

    My place.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2006

    Absolutley Wonderful

    I read this book on a whim. I regularly look for books on this website, and I stumbled upon this book. Absolutley wonderful, no other words to express it. I will admit, the first chapter wasn't all that great, but once you get into the plot, this book is great. I am looking foward to reading some of Mrs. Malladi's books in the future. This book is great and well...not to give away the book, but...well, I'll just say I personally had a connection with the main character because of what she had the courage to do. Read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2005

    Enjoyable!

    I thought it was a good read. Sometimes sad, sometimes lighthearted. You won't be disappointed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2005

    Stick with it...

    Overall it was a very good book with a great twist near the end. There were times when it would slow down and it was easy to put it down for a few days. There were other parts when putting it down wasn't an option.

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    Posted September 26, 2011

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