They say inspiration strikes in the unlikeliest of places. Years ago, author Nell Freudenberger met a young Bangladeshi woman on a flight. As it turns out, this new immigrant, who would later become Freudenberger's friend, was traveling to the United States to marry an American man she had only met online. Years later, this real-life story became the basis for Freudenberger's short story "An Arranged Marriage," published in The New Yorker
. With her friend's permission, that same story has come to form the heart of Freudenberger's second novel, The Newlyweds
As the story opens, Amina is settling into her home in upstate New York with her soon-to-be husband George. She has come to the United States on the condition that George will convert to Islam, and that they will have a "proper" Muslim wedding in a nearby mosque or, at the very least, at the local Islamic...
Beyond the Book
In The Newlyweds
, when Amina returns home to Bangladesh, her mother picks up a box of freshly-made sondesh
from a reputed vendor to bring to Amina's aunt.
Bangladesh shares the Bengali language with the Indian state of West Bengal. Bengali sweets (mishti
) are famous all over South Asia and sondesh
is particularly well-known. Like most other Bengali sweets, sondesh
is a milk-based treat made from fresh cheese (paneer
The word sondesh
, as it is spelled in the rest of South Asia) is both singular and plural and means...