Love Marriage

Love Marriage

by V. V. Ganeshananthan

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Overview

In this globe-scattered Sri Lankan family, we speak of only two kinds of marriage. The first is the Arranged Marriage. The second is the Love Marriage. In reality, there is a whole spectrum in between, but most of us spend years running away from the first toward the second. [p. 3]

The daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who left their collapsing country and married in America, Yalini finds herself caught between the traditions of her ancestors and the lure of her own modern world. But when she is summoned to Toronto to help care for her dying uncle, Kumaran, a former member of the militant Tamil Tigers, Yalini is forced to see that violence is not a relic of the Sri Lankan past, but very much a part of her Western present.

While Kumaran’s loved ones gather around him to say goodbye, Yalini traces her family’s roots–and the conflicts facing them as ethnic Tamils–through a series of marriages. Now, as Kumaran’s death and his daughter’s politically motivated nuptials edge closer, Yalini must decide where she stands.

Lyrical and innovative, V. V. Ganeshananthan’s novel brilliantly unfolds how generations of struggle both form and fractures families.

Praise for Love Marriage
“A beautiful first novel. This intricately woven tale, with its universal themes of love and estrangement, presents an exciting new voice in American literature.”
–Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

“Complex and moving . . . an impressive debut.”
–Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio   

“V. V. Ganeshananthan has given us a riveting picture of the intersections of love and war that shape us all. A debut of incredible passion and wisdom.”
–Rebecca Johns, author of Icebergs

“At its best and simplest, Ganeshananthan can be profoundly moving. She captures the pain of exile poignantly.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Ganeshananthan has created a slow-burning and beautifully written debut in Love Marriage.  It is an evocative examination of Sri Lankan cultural mores, and the way one family is affected by love and war” — The Financial Times
“Poignant and authentic…. Insight gained into Toronto's Tamil community is a welcome bonus in this gem of a book by a young writer who is sure to present more thought-provoking, entertaining prose in the future.” —The Toronto Star
“The book is at times witty and always beautifully written” — The Irish Times

"Innovative….this is an ambitious family drama about an underreported part of the world, filled with well-shaded characters [and] gorgeous flourish…Buy it." — New York Magazine

"As if she were stringing a necklace of bright beads, the author relates the stories of Yalini's Sri Lankan forebears in lapidary folkloric narratives…What she does here, she does quite affectingly." — The Boston Globe

"In spare, lyrical prose, V.V. Ganeshananthan's debut novel tells the story of two Sri Lankan Tamil families over four generations who, despite civil war and displacement, are irrevocably joined by marriage and tradition….Powerful." — Ms. Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400066698
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2008
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,059,402
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

In this globe-scattered Sri Lankan family, we speak only of two kinds of marriage. The first is the Arranged Marriage. The second is the Love Marriage. In reality, there is a whole spectrum in between, but most of us spend years running away from the first toward the second.

Among the categories that bleed outside these two carefully delineated boundaries: the Self-Arranged Marriage, the Outside Marriage, the Cousin Marriage, the Village Marriage, the Marriage Abroad. There is the Marriage Without Consent. There is the Marriage Under Pressure. There is even Marrying the Enemy, who, it turns out, is not an Enemy at all.

You cannot go unfettered into a family’s history if you are one of them. The nature of certain unions will be hidden from you, rephrased to you, the subject dropped, the music changed. There is Proper Marriage; there is Improper Marriage. This Tamil family speaks of the latter in whispers.

The rule is that all families begin with a marriage. And the other way around.

You don’t marry a person, my father says to no one in particular. You marry a family.

The Self-Arranged Marriage: my father has married my mother’s family so successfully that he now fits into it as well as—if not better than—he fits into his own. My mother is an Aravindran and, further back than that, a Vairavan, which means that the members of her family—especially her siblings—are nosy, noisy, close, and concerned with domestic comforts. Years after they stopped living where they had always lived, in a small house in the village of Urelu, in the town of Jaffna, they remain connected by telephone lines and carefully written aerograms. They never forget birthdays, favorite curries, or unkindnesses. They were once three but are now two. My father loves my mother’s family, and in return for that they draw him in. They have forgotten that when he wanted to marry my mother they circled around her protectively from the far corners of the globe, opposed to her marrying a man they had never even met. They only remember that she has a happy life in a country far safer than the one in which she was born.

And twenty-five years after their wedding, my parents like to give the impression that their marriage was Arranged, because they are both very Proper. But their secret is out: they fell in love. Those who are watching can see how in certain moments they become each other. This has been their way of falling in love: the acquisition of each other’s habits, mannerisms, preferences, and witticisms. They have built a wall around their two-ness, and each brick laid in place is a secret that only they share, or perhaps an exception one has made for the other. They have become an example of how you can Have Your Love and Eat It Too. They let everyone think that they took no responsibility for the way they came together. They engaged in all the dances of manners and the ceremonies involved in a Traditional Marriage, which is to say, an Arranged Marriage. This, they say, is not a romance. It begins with an introduction, a handshake, which is not the custom of the East but has become the greeting of the West. The touching of fingers is a strange, luscious intimacy, a preface to the story.

These two, my parents, have not acknowledged their secret—perhaps not even to each other. And they have exchanged rings and vows and hearts without eliciting the frowns that Improper Marriages frequently do.

Reading Group Guide

1. At the beginning of the novel, Yalini befriends and then breaks off her friendship with an unnamed male. What do you think draws her to him in the first place? Why does she break off the friendship? What does the relationship tell you about her character?

2. There are several obvious doubles in the novel–Yalini and Janani, Kunju and Tharshi, Murali and Kumaran. Why do you think pairs are so important? How do these relationships compare and relate to each other? Can you think of any other significant pairs?

3. Why do you think Ganeshananthan chooses to write in fragmented vignettes?

4. Father-daughter relationships are important to this book. How does Murali and Yalini’s relationship compare with Kumaran and Janani’s relationship? How is Yalini’s budding relationship with Kumaran different from her relationship with Murali?

5. Yalini describes her family as “globe-scattered” (3). How is setting important in the novel? What do you see as the places that are most important to Yalini’s family story? How, in particular, is Toronto significant? Jaffna? America?

6. Violence plays a large part in this story–some incidents are personal, some political, and some accidental. Yalini’s great-grandfather’s murder, various sets of ethnic riots, the violence between Rajan and Harini, and the burns suffered by Kunju all mark milestones in the novel. How do incidents of emotional violence accomplish something similar? Do they?

7. When she meets Kumaran, Yalini becomes the unofficial family historian. Later, she says that, in order to do so, she had to learn to think in the first person. Why is it so important to Yalini to tell her family’s story?

8. Why do you think Ganeshananthan chooses the title Love Marriage? How is it important to each of the relationships that she writes about?

9. After trying several times to stop Janani’s wedding, Yalini comes to a realization. She says: “She was doing it for him, because she thought he would want to see tradition preserved, if not in the form of a Tamil country, then in the form of a Tamil daughter” (265). Do you agree with Yalini about Janani’s motivations? How do they set her apart from Yalini? Do you believe that this is what Kumaran wanted for his daughter?

10. Even after the attack on the wedding site, Janani still marries Suthan. How does this choice affect or implicate Yalini in political violence?

11. At the end of the novel, Yalini asks herself whether she, if faced with the same situations as Kumaran and Janani, would have acted similarly, saying: “governments call men terrorists to erase their reason, to make them crazy. Some of them are, and some of them are not. What does that make me?” (272). How do you think Yalini comes to terms with Kumaran’s actions? Do you think she too would have joined the Tigers had she not lived in America?

12. Tharshi’s daughter Uma does not fit into the marriage categories that Yalini lays out on the first page. Instead, Tharshi says that her daughter was “Too Special to Get Married.” Later, Yalini confesses that she has much of Uma in her. Do you think that Yalini will ever get married? Or is she, also, Too Special?

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Love Marriage 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Sandee5657 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this author's debut novel. Her writing is very poetic and I like how it is broken into vignettes, and narrated. Her story of tradition, and changes one makes when in another country, as well as difficulties make this book a delight to read.
clamairy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very promising first novel. The format is a mixed blessing, though. It's written like a memoir or journal entries, and the end result is a bit repetitive at times. This stunning and eye-opening look into the hidden society of ex-pat Sri Lankans, particularly the Tamils of the diaspora, is both heart breaking and full of hope. It showcases a people desperately trying to hang on to what is good about their lost country's culture while attempting, not always successfully, to leave behind old enmities and prejudices. I do hope the author leaves behind this format when writing her second novel.
nickelmoonpoet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is a good first novel. Ganeshananthan successfully explores Sri Lankan history within the context of one family's story without alienating non-Sri Lankans. I enjoyed the cultural self-discovery of the protagonist as she learns about her family's history and cultural heritage. Throughout the novel the author takes the opportunity to educate Western readers about Sri Lanka without condescending to the West's ignorance. It was an interesting story and an easy read.
ahegge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage was an interesting look at the history of a Sri Lankan family through the eyes of their American-born descendent. I knew very little about the history of Sri Lanka and its conflicts prior to reading this book and learning about these topics was my favorite part of this reading experience. V.V. Ganeshananthan did a good job of presenting this historical material, as well as delving into the moral issues that surround conflict through an engaging story. Overall, I enjoyed this book, but felt that the final quarter to a third of it was a little weak compared to the rest. In this section,the narrator became overly self-reflective and melodramatic which served to drag the story down. This was a solid first novel, but I wasn't blown away by it. I'd definitely consider reading future novels by this author.
sussabmax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I somehow had the idea that this was about Indian immigrants, but it is actually about Sri Lanka. I learned a lot, but in a very interesting, incidental to the story sort of way. The structure was a bit odd, with no quotation marks to indicate for sure when people are talking, for instance, but it flowed very well. That said, the end of this book was disappointing. The story just kind of ended, with no real conclusion to justify the tension that was built up as I read. Because there was a build up of tension, very subtle, that had me racing to an ending that was distinctly underwhelming. Ganeshananthan is definitely an author to watch out for. I am sure that she will mature as a writer, and her future books will be even better than this one, which did have a lot to recommend it. The characters are very realistic, and their relationships were fascinating. As a Westerner, I don't have much experience with arranged marriages, and the various gradations between a completely arranged marriage and a love marriage chosen only by the couple involved. The information on the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka was illustrated through the impacts to the various characters in a way that imparted a lot of information without making the reader feel like the book is a textbook or a newspaper. Overall, I do recommend this book, but don't expect a fantastic ending.
Somer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received Love Marriage from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. The book started out strong, and I was sure I would give it at least 4 stars, even halfway through the book. But after finishing it, I think I have to give it 3.5 stars. Here's why.Ganeshananthan has a beautiful writing style, very mature for such a young writer (by my calculations, she's about 28). But the story jumps around too much. First it was just that it would jump from the narrator's present or recent past, to her family's past (early 80s), telling a part of different family members' histories. It was easy to tell who was being talked about, as most sections started with the name of the family member being discussed in that section, but sometimes it was hard to remember whose side of the family the particular family member was on (the inclusion of a family tree at the beginning was helpful in this aspect). But later on the narrator would literally switch from one paragraph to the next (this happened in a couple of spots where, I guess, Yalini would introduce a part of her uncle's story, and the narration would continue as if he were telling the story). This caused confusion several times and made it hard for me to focus on the story.What did I like about the book? I learned more about Sri Lanka than I have ever known. I knew nothing about the ethnic tensions there, and nothing about the Tamil Tigers. I learned a lot about the Hindu marriage and funeral rituals, which was very interesting. But overall, the story left me feeling unfulfilled. Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. I enjoyed the book and feel that it is a very good first book by Ganeshananthan.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is told from the point of view of Yalini, the 1st generation only child of Sri Lankan immigrants. Yalini parents fled Sri Lanka prior to the outbreak of civil war, motivated more by the desire for a better life than a sense of necessary exile. As such, Yalini knows (or perhaps I should say feels) relatively little about life in Sri Lanka in general and the nature of the civil war in particular. Her life in isolation was forced to change when her parents called her to Toronto to care for her ailing uncle - a leader of the Tamil Tigers rebel group. Through the time she spends with her uncle, and the questions that arise for her father, Yalini learns her family history. Through her interactions with her younger cousin (the uncle's daughter) she is introduced to a perspective on life that is far different from her own.The family history, as well as the interweaving narrative set in the present, is told in a series of vignettes, ranging in length of a number of pages to a paragraph. Through the vignettes the reader is introduced to two themes. The first, which provided the title of the book, is how love and marriage interplay in a culture where arranged marriage is the norm. The second, which is handled with far greater nuance and, as such, is the strength of the book, is the varying ways in which people deal with political upheaval in their home land. I found the sections on marriage highly repetitive, to the point where I was not sure whether the choice of repeating exact lines was a writing style or an editing mistake. In contrast, the sections on the ways in which Tamils abroad chose to involve themselves in the old country were excellent. Becoming involved with the insular (and sometimes violent) Tamil Tiger community in Toronto, is the major way that Yalini learns about her own culture.I had a few - lets call them "first novel" - quibbles with the plot. I found the choice that the uncle be a leader in the Tigers unnecessary. Of all of the character development, the least well developed was the narrator, hence, the ending, where they parallel, without much cause or context, Yalini with an older unmarried aunt, was relatively confusing. That said, the story was engaging enough for me to read in more or less one sitting, in sections the writing was brilliant, and in the end you unintentionally learn about (and contemplate) the plight of the Tamils in the post 9/11 world. I eagerly anticipate V.V. Ganesshananthan's next book.
jtho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Love Marriage" is almost a set of short stories, rather than a novel. Yalini is the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants to Canada, and various family members tell her about the marriages of her aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents - love marriages, arranged marriages, marriages that almost weren't and marriages that never happened. Meeting so many characters based on their marriages is a unique idea, and I enjoyed all of the different stories.I am someone who forgets the names of characters even in books with only a few, and this one has many characters all with Sri Lankan names, which made them harder to remember for me. However, because this was more like a book of short stories, I could enjoy each character's tale, forget the names, and it didn't affect my understanding or enjoyment of the entire plot and how everything tied together.I really enjoyed Ganeshananthan's style of writing, the plot(s), and the frame around this one. The ending was a little off for me - suddenly things got very personal for the narrator, and the drastic shift from everyone else's stories seemed abrupt and like too much information about someone I had not known so intimately for 250 pages. Overall, I thought this was a great book and I look forward to more from the author.
chelseagirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is a wonderful, but perhaps misleadingly titled first novel. While love and marriage are very much at the heart of the text, it is not precisely a love story, so much as it is an examination of love in all its sorts: romantic, familial, love of country and people, and so forth. Yalini, the narrator, is the American-born daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants. Like many children of immigrants she finds herself torn between her parents' culture and the culture she has grown up surrounded by. Though she has never been to Sri Lanka, because of the dangerous civil war that prevents her parents from returning, Yalini is drawn to it; in the wake of the 2001 tsunami she withdraws from college and finds herself nursing a dying uncle, whose past as a member of the Tamil Tigers is examined in detail. Love Marriage is not simply Yalini's story, but that of her parents, and their families, and the events that have led so many of them into diaspora from the homeland they still hold close to their hearts. In brief vignettes, V. V. Ganeshananthan constructs a world both vivid and nostalgic, and is unafraid to ask questions for which there are no easy answers.
jlelliott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I almost immediately fell in love with the staccato rhythm of the blunt sentences and short chapters in V. V. Ganeshananthan¿s first novel, Love Marriage. Love Marriage is the aggregate love story of narrator Yalini¿s Sri Lankan ancestors, a compare and contrast of the many different forms the social contract of marriage can take. The stories of each pair of relations form a series of lovely vignettes, many of which have a beautiful internal symmetry: in one story Yalini¿s father grows up thinking he has a broken (diseased) heart, only to discover that his heart is healthy and his true love in America, in another a young girl replaces her sister in a school championship after her sister suffers a freak accident, inadvertently appropriating the injured sister¿s future as well. However, I was unable to find this order and grace within the larger story of the novel. Yalini begins the novel with ambiguous feelings about her heritage, and spends the bulk of it learning her family¿s stories from her dying uncle, a former Tamil Tiger. In the end she seems to be deteriorating emotionally, perhaps suffering from depression as she deals with her Uncle¿s death and her cousin¿s questionable arranged marriage. Yalini is almost a side-note in her own story, and it is difficult to understand what she has gained from her increasing awareness of her Sri Lankan history. The novel has almost no real-time action (as opposed to action occurring in historical flashbacks and stories) and ends abruptly. Obvious themes include the lack of rigid social guidance in America as compared to Sri Lanka, and the hatred and forgiveness that can emerge from long ethnic wars, but again neither of these themes is expounded much in the actual life of Yalini. I was honestly slightly disappointed with the novel, as a novel, but I really enjoyed the individual vignettes and writing style. I was excited to learn a little about the Tamils and Sri Lanka, and would happily pick up another book by Ganeshananthan to see how her style evolves in her future novels.
ashleyk44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage was certainly a solid first novel. Ganeshananthan explores not only the life of a young Sri Lankan woman living in America, but also the lives of several generations of her family and the history of her country. One thing I enjoyed about this novel was the structure. Ganeshananthan focuses each section on a certain character and their ancestors, so that the reader discovers much more about them. All of this background (which is detailed, but not overwhelming) builds up to great character development. Her attention to detail and ability to create such a diverse cast of characters is impressive. Each section is like a vignette, and to see how they all tie together to become part of who the narrator is is fantastic.This novel also taught me a great deal about Sri Lanka and the customs of its people. I knew very little about the country before picking it up, and I enjoyed learning so much. The descriptions of marriage and funeral rituals were especially well-written and interesting. I did feel a bit let down by the ending of the novel. I anticipated something much more climactic. I was also a little thrown off by a section close to the end where the narrator (Yalini) tells the reader about her body image, etc...I felt like it came too late in the novel. Her character was already so well developed, and there was very little sense that she was so obsessive about some of things she mentions in this section - it was like a curveball that forced me to reevaluate what I knew of her as a character. If this section was moved up to an earlier point in the novel it would make much more sense structurally and in terms of character development.Overall, a very intriguing and informative read. I would definitely recommend it.*Review of ARC
msjoanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A solid first novel told in short stories that make it an ideal choice for reading on short subway rides and other interrupted travels. I know nothing about Sri Lanka or its history, and was captivated by the story of the family told in this book. The book occasionally used Capital Letters to define terms (e.g., Love Marriage...Heart), which I found more irritating than effective. Definitely an enjoyable read.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is a lyrical family history. The novel is told from the point of view of Yalini, the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants, who tells us that there are two types of marriage, Arranged Marriage and Love Marriage.Yalini tries to assemble from a family history, tries to create a sense of order in the chaos of memory, sketching for herself a web of her cultural heritage that weaves through war, love, terrorism, culture, and tradition. Most of the stories center on the relationships of various women to the men they loved, or lost, or got but didn't want (though this may be because these are the ones that stood out most in my mind). I enjoyed the poetry of this book and the stories told, the way each family has its own mythologies. And I was deeply interested in looking at a deeply rooted perspective on a country and a people I knew little about previously.My one complaint would be that the title of chapters and sections did not always match up with the content within them. When a chapter is labeled "Vani", I expect that chapter to be in someway about Vani, not Vani's various family members (though they were all very interesting in their own rights). I suppose the message could be that we cannot full know one family member without knowledge of the rest, but the mild OCD in me expects chapters to be properly labeled. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
rrravenita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Told from a young Sri Lankan-American woman's point of view, this book is about the things we do to and for our families, and how those choices can affect people generations later. It is, essentially, a book about family history, and how the narrator struggles to find out where she fits into it. I found it interesting to, while not necessarily agreeing with their tactics, sympathize and understand where both sides of the issues in Sri Lanka were coming from (the government and the Tamil Tigers). Though she seemed more sympathetic to the Tigers, I think the author did well not to romanticize the Tigers' role in the conflicts, therefore allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. Though at times difficult to recall who is who, I quite enjoyed reading this book. I also now understand a lot more about what is and has been happening in Sri Lanaka that doesn't make the nightly news.
spiltmilkblog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is an interesting look at how Sri Lankan immigrants try to assimilate to life in the West. I learned a lot about the country and history of Sri Lanka and the war that the Tamil Tigers have been fighting. At times the book could be breathtaking with very vivid imagery but the majority of the time I felt it wasn't trying hard enough to hold my attention. Over all it was worth reading if the topic interests you.
lkothari on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely book. As a first-generation South Asian, the focus on Marriage (with a capital M) rang true. The novel tells the story of a girl learning about the war and violence in Sri Lanka through her dying uncle. At base are the stories of her family members--her parents, their siblings, their parents. The author weaves a coherent tale through the stories of each person, often with a focus on how they found (or did not find) a spouse and the consequences of each Marriage, whether Proper or not.
julko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book a long time ago as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and it took me forever to pick it up. The synopsis on the back didn't grab me, and I thought it would be a run of the mill "chick lit" type of book.Instead what I found was a wonderful lyrical book about love, marriage, and family. It was also a study on how your past choices impact your present and future as well as those you love. Surprisingly it was also an interesting lesson on Sri Lankan history. I wish I had read this book before Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. Together the two offer a fascinating profile of Sri Lanka.
lovelytoreadyou on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The short passages of this fantastic novel make Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan a very quick and enjoyable read. The author writes with wisdom seemingly beyond her 25 years. The beauty of her verse captured me and compelled me to become enchanted with her characters. This is not a book that every type of person will enjoy. The dreamy style of writing, along with the short passages, make for an almost journal-style feel. However, if you enjoy reading about family, war, culture-crossing, or biographies, this book is for you.Side note - the family tree at the beginning of the book helped IMMENSELY. I would suggest that any new reader make a copy of it and keep it nearby while reading, just do you don't have to constantly flip back and forth. I lost my place in the book more than once because I needed a double check of who-was-who!
xmaystarx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is set up as a series of vignettes and our guide through them is Yalini, an American born Sri Lankan. The stories are about her family, and help us to understand her background and the internal battle she has understanding people and marriage. While I really liked most of the vignettes I found some of them forced, like the author felt she needed something about a certain family member so she just pulled out a story. The concept behind the book and the majority of the writing was good but I felt let down by the delivery and execution of the idea. There were so many family members that whenever I picked the book back up I would have to check the family tree and be reminded of who was who. I also got annoyed by how often the story seemed to jump back and forth in time. I don't mean from the history of Sri Lanka and the root of the family but jumps in the current time from before and after specific events. This took place especially towards the end, as if she forgot she wanted to make a point so just added it randomly. Although the writing was pleasant, the other things just distracted me from it. I think Ganeshananthan has potential as a great writer seeing how this is just her first novel and will look into her future works to see how she has developed.
Bbexlibris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A marriage, the marriage between two people and two families can be seen differently by each person involved, and also for the viewers as well. A marriage means many things, to each of us it means something different. V.V. Ganeshananthan makes her point that marriage is the combination of two very diverse family trees, which will form a bond and belong to both host trees at the same time, while becoming a tree in itself as well.In Love Marriage, we follow Yalini, a young woman born in the US to parents from Sri Lanka. Her roots, hidden throughout her life come to the surface and mean much more when her dying uncle comes to be with them as he passes. Yalini learns more about her family from him than her parents have ever spoken, but with what she hears she will then have to make the choice to love her uncle despite of his past, or to embrace him and his past. Filled with Sri Lankan politics and the waring Tamil Tigers and Sinhalese, seen from a distance as Yalini tries to make sense of the war her parents tried to have her not know.Ganeshananthan does an excellent job with the politics, with the cultural aspects of it, and I followed it all (even though I did not know anything about the situation in Sri Lanka previous to reading this book!). The one thing that seemed stilted, or awkward was the writing style, but it was not so much so as to ruin the beautiful story that the author told. Her worlds crashed together and she was there to tell of what she saw, what she felt and all that led up to that point. An enjoyable read, informative and full of life...I'd read it all over again!Quotes:What is a marriage, a union of two people, or of them and their families as well? Ganeshanathan says that it is the second, a union of all involved, including each others families."Reverse a family tree, and branches of blood are whittled down to one person. I am composed of all the women and men who came before me. I am the result of many Marriages" (p. 239).The power of this quote, and that it rings true over and over when waring peoples or nations have fought for generations. No one knows truly why the fight should go on, just that it does, and that it will, about the conflict she writes, "If you ask someone else, they will tell you a different story, say that the Tamils were making it all up, that there was no discrimination, that those cultures were equal before the Tigers began killing people, including their own. Ask another, and another. None of the stories will be absolutely complete, but their tellers will be absolutely certain. This is how we make war" (p. 119).
sshartelg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I had no expectations (good or bad) about it, but I knew that I had to read it b/c it was sent to me as an Early Review title. Not only is it an engrossing multi-generational family story set in America, Sri Lanka, and Toronto, but it is also beautifully told. I could not believe that this is Ganeshananthan's first book. She is a true talent. She deftly weaves together the stories of the narrator and her extended family, her language is beautiful and evocative, and she taught me a lot about the recent (last 40 years or so) history of Sri Lanka. I plan on passing this title on to friends and I look forward to the author's second book.
Jeanomario on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gentle and lyrical in its telling, this novel weaves together memorable family members from a culture unknown to this reviewer. Through this narrative, I came to understand their political conflicts and family dynamics a bit better. Ganeshananthan's style concentrates a lot of information into a relatively short chapter and I liked the movement from person to person as the story unfolded.
sonam_soni on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I knew very little about Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and that particular history until I read this book. It inspired me to learn more about the topic. This book was different from most books by South Asian authors. It was well written, with a unique story that didn't end in the West saving someone from the East. It read like historical fiction but with so much emotion. A beautiful book, a joy to read. I'm looking forward to more books by her. (
skrishna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Marriage is the story of Yalini, a recent college grad who is a first generation Sri Lankan-American. The book is not so much her story, as it is the story of her Sri Lankan family and the trials and tribulations they experienced as a result of Marriage. It is not just internal family squabbles that run through the book, it is also the recent history of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers that really make this book a gem. While there are plenty of books about India, Sri Lanka is often overshadowed; the country¿s history isn¿t nearly as well known. While most people have heard of the Tamil Tigers, few know who they really are or what it means. That is the strength of this book ¿ the history it reveals to its readers. While the story of the people and relationships is somewhat less compelling, overall it is still a book that is very much worth reading.
Litfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Love Marriage" is a generational saga of a Sri Lankan family, which includes a member of the Tamil Tigers, as well as an exploration of the many types of marriage that are possible, including the titular Love Marriage. The narrator, Yalini, is the child of parents who forged a Love Marriage, contrary to their culture's traditions of arranged marriage. Her parents meet in America, where Yalini is born, far from the growing conflicts between Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. The war comes home to Yalini, however, when her uncle, a famed Tamil Tiger, comes to them in his last days of life. As he tells Yalini his story she is drawn into the world she never knew firsthand. The writing style is flowing and captivating. An unfortunate flaw is that in trying to tell so many stories-- those of the family, the marriages, and the country-- the novel never seems to quite settle into one and completely explore it which leaves the reader feeling somewhat hungry to go a bit deeper. However the flow of the narrative and the historical backdrop serve to keep the novel interesting and worthwhile.