When Anita Rau Badami made her U.S. debut last year with her second novel, The Hero's Walk, reviewers compared her deft and lush book to the works of Michael Ondaatje, R. K. Narayan, Naguib Mafouz, and Jhumpa Lahiri. It was hailed by Washington Post Book World ("fascinating . . . engrossing"), People Weekly ("resonant"), and Salon.com ("compelling"), among others.
Now we're pleased to announce the U.S. publication of her first novel, Tamarind Woman. Set in India's railway colonies, Tamarind Woman tells the story of two generations of women. Kamini, an overachiever, has moved to Canada to begin her graduate studies. Her mother, Saroja, nicknamed Tamarind Woman due to her sour tongue, is bitter because of her loveless marriage and her thwarted ambition to become a doctor.
When Kamini receives a postcard from her mother saying that she has sold their home and is traveling through India by train, both are plunged into the past to confront their dreams and losses. On her long railroad journey, Saroja tells the passengers on her train the story of her life. And from Canada, in between phone calls to her mother and postcards received from her mother's trip, Kamini reflects on her past. As we learn about their respective histories, from girlhood through maturity, we see the loss and love, the jealousy and joy, that has filled their lives.
Tamarind Woman is a wise and compassionate novel about family, memory, and the traditions that tear us apart and bring us together.
I called my mother every Sunday from the silence of my basement apartment, reluctant to tell her how I yearned to get away from this freezing cold city where even the traffic sounds were muffled by the snow.
"Well, who asked you to go?" Ma would have demanded. "Did somebody tie your hands behind your back and say 'Go-go to that Calgary North Pole place'?"
So instead I said, "Ma, there are mountains in the distance, all covered with snow. I can see them gleaming like silver cones in the sunlight when I go outside my apartment."
"You sound like a travel brochure," said Ma. "I hope you wear that sweater your Aunty Lalli knit for you, you catch cold so easily."
"These mountains are almost as tall as the Eastern Ghats. Do you remember that trip with Dadda in his inspection saloon?"
"The Western Ghats."
"We never went up the Western Ghats, Ma. You are talking about the Eastern Ghats."
"Don't tell me what I am talking about," snapped Ma...
If you liked Tamarind Woman, try these:
On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.
Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family, Anjali sets off to Bangalore where she falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people. However, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side . . .
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