All the commonplaces of culture clash are on display in this second novel by Malladi (A Breath of Fresh Air), about an Indian woman who hides her engagement to an American man from her traditional Brahmin family. "I had escaped arranged marriage," begins Priya Rao, "by coming to the United States to do a master's in Computer Sciences at Texas A&M, by conveniently finding a job in Silicon Valley, and then by inventing several excuses to not go to India." At 27, having run out of excuses, she returns to her home city of Hyderabad and runs headlong into a dizzying array of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Tormenting Priya is a secret: Nick, her American fianc . She is afraid to tell anyone about him, fearing she will be disowned, and even agrees to meet an Indian man her parents would like her to marry. Malladi succeeds in giving a vivid sensory impression of the south of India, its foods and climate and customs, but Priya's family falls neatly into stock types: the overbearing mother who wants Priya to marry within her caste; the hip younger brother who represents the next, Westernized generation of Indians; the catty aunt who constantly criticizes her niece. Awkward prose ("lethargy swirling around her like an irritating mosquito") is a distraction, and melodrama takes the place of nuanced plotting-a final twist is particularly egregious. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Priya has a dilemma. Having lived with fianc Nick Collins for three years in the Silicon Valley, she returns to her native India after a seven-year absence. Given India's cultural traditions, she has a difficult time discussing Nick with her family, who is deeply suspicious of Americans and their morals. She is also forced to participate in a pelli-chupulu, an arranged meeting with a prospective groom and his parents. Priya is totally against arranged marriages and questions their relevance, especially after talking with her brother and cousins. When she is finally forced to tell her family about Nick, they are deeply angered and disappointed, but her father eventually accepts her decision. In this passionately told story by the author of A Breath of Fresh Air, Priya's frustration, her family's desires, and the heat during the mango season are all well conveyed. The result is a fascinating look at contemporary India. Strongly recommended.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Teens will identify with the family dynamics portrayed here, but those from foreign cultures will be most affected by this story of love and family. When she returns to India after seven years, Priya Rao, 27, faces the harsh reality of prejudice and culture clash. Besides religion, caste, and financial status, there is the matter of skin color. Lighter is better, and Priya is considered "dark." Hyderabad seems hotter and dirtier, and her family as intractable as ever, but mango season, the frenetic preparation of pickles and other delicacies from the fruit that ripens in southern India's midsummer, is her favorite time. Ma, a "super nag," quickly makes clear that it is time for her daughter to marry a "nice Indian boy," best of all, a Teluga Brahmin from a family they have chosen, though Priya has veto power once the two have met. How can she tell them that she is engaged to her American lover? She has returned for that purpose, and to reconnect with home and family. She confronts them after a "bride-seeing ceremony" she feels forced to endure; they are horrified, but not rejecting, as she had feared, and sure that the marriage will ultimately fail. Her parents finally agree to attend her wedding in Memphis (both a Hindu and a Baptist ceremony). Only at the very end of the book do readers learn that her fiance is black.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A welcome second from Malladi (A Breath of Fresh Air, 2002), who sends a young expatriate back to her family in India and makes her grow up fast. A bright girl from an ambitious Brahmin family, Priya studied computer science at Texas A&M and has a good job in Silicon Valley. Now on her first visit back to her family in more than seven years, she’s surprised at just how foreign India--with its dirt, heat, and traditions--has become to her. Her family is proud of her accomplishments, but they worry that, at 27, Priya is on the verge of becoming an old maid. She didn’t have the nerve to tell them about Nick Collins, her American fiancé back in San Francisco, so they took matters into their own hands by arranging a marriage for her to Adarsh Sarma, the handsome and very eligible son of a prominent local family. Americanized to look upon arranged marriages as monstrous and absurd, but still Indian enough to find it hard to defy her parents outright, Priya is in a bind. Plus, she thinks Adarsh is a hunk. And Nick has stopped returning her e-mails. Everyone is excited about setting up a double wedding with Priya and her aunt Sowmya (who has been assigned a considerably plainer and less desirable fiancé), and Priya is afraid that the arrangements will soon take on a momentum that can’t be stopped. What to do? Has Nick abandoned her? Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush? And does Priya really want, deep down, to be an Indian or an American? When there’s no time to sort out your thoughts, you have to go by your gut feelings, even if you can’t justify them. Standard fare, but nicely seasoned: The spice of atmosphere and geography livens up a family saga and gives a fresh twist to a typicalcoming-of-age tale. Agent: Mildred Marmur Associates Ltd.