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Tiger Hills Paperback – August 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Set in Southern India at the end of the nineteenth century, Mandanna�s magnificent debut follows the fortunes of two childhood friends throughout their lives. Precocious, sparkling Devi, adored by her parents, reaches out to Devanna, whose mother left his father and committed suicide, leaving the boy�s place in his family uncertain. Devi and Devanna become the closest of friends, but as they grow older, Devanna develops feelings for Devi that she doesn�t share. Devi has eyes for only one man, Machu, a cousin of Devanna�s who is renowned for killing a tiger during a hunt. When Devi reaches her teens, she pursues the older Machu, vowing he�s the only man she�ll marry. Devanna studies science and herbal remedies with a German missionary, who thinks of him as a son and helps him gain entrance to a university in Bangalore to study medicine. A brutish fellow student makes Devanna�s experience at the university miserable, and a final monstrous transgression sends Devanna running back home to commit an act that will change the course of his life and Devi�s forever. Once the story gets going, it is impossible to stop reading Mandanna�s spellbinding epic. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“More than a love story, Tiger Hills explores the hazardous side of passion and the shackling grip of memory once love has been thwarted…. An illuminating portrait of place through six decades of social change.”
—The New York Times, Editor’s Choice

“[A] magnificent debut…. It is impossible to stop reading Mandanna’s spellbinding epic.”
—Booklist, Starred Review

“Beautiful prose and delicate handling.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“An extraordinarily imaginative novel with prose that catches in the heart like poetry.”
—Leila Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of Roses

“Mandanna’s sweeping saga is ambitious (and) engaging.”
—Publishers Weekly

“With great skill, Sarita Mandanna inserts the reader into Southern India in the late 1800s and captivates us with her saga of a strong-willed girl making difficult choices that will change her life. From the lushness of mountain, jungle, and coffee plantation landscapes, to the multiple threads of unfulfilled love, I was hooked to the very last page, and was reluctant to have to leave this fascinating world."
—Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River and Red River

“A great read that will have many points of discussion for any book group; highly recommended.”
—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pintail; Reprint edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670066931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670066933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,081,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

It was ancient custom in Coorg to bury the umbilical cord of a newborn. Past the jungle undergrowth, tucked among root and shale, deep into the earth. It served as a talisman, it was believed, a beacon showing the way home. So that no matter how far one went, no matter the distance nor the passage of time, ever this electric longitude, pointed towards home.

Perhaps inevitably then, when I began to write Tiger Hills, Coorg was the setting that naturally unfurled. My words, echoing my grandfather's as he tells us stories around an oil lamp. The great-grandmother, widowed young, who walked her fields alone, a dagger tucked into her blouse. These stories and others, my roots, sunk for generations into these hills.

While Coorg forms the highly personalized canvas of Tiger Hills, I wanted to write a story almost classical in structure - a large narrative, whose characters struggle with universal themes. What do we do when thrust into circumstances not of our choosing? Tiger Hills explores the nexus between fortitude and acceptance, the choices we make in the aftermath of happenstance and the far-reaching impact they can carry. Determined not to be victimized, Devi fights for happiness the best she can. She isn't always easy to like and makes some decisions that are far from right. And yet, who was truly the victim and who the aggressor?

As she forges a life for herself within the parameters decided for her, Devi hardens. To such an extent however, that she becomes wedded to a version of happiness too rooted in memory to ever become real. When is it best to let go, to seek happiness along new roads, even those previously discounted?

Devi's story lies at the core of Tiger Hills, but it is the other stories, unvoiced, like a dried flower lying pressed within the pages of a book, that form its undercurrent. A missionary, searching for something he cannot express; an orphan, single minded in his devotion; a boy, marked by both the mother who leaves him to the care of another as well as the legend of a father barely remembered. Different interpretations of love - obsessive, possessive, filial; the ways we wield them to undo one another, the suffering we invite upon those we hold dearest.

Finally, redemption. Tiger Hills is an exploration of our all too human need to come full circle, for reconciliation; and the idea that often, it lies well within our grasp.

Learn more about Tiger Hills at

Sarita Mandanna belongs to the stunning landscapes of Coorg, the setting of Tiger Hills. Her family history extends for centuries through these hills, famous for their coffee plantations and often described as the 'Scotland of India'. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Management, she has an MBA from the Wharton Business School and was most recently a private equity investor in New York City. Tiger Hills is her debut novel. It is being translated into 14 languages around the world, including French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Hebrew, Hungarian, Dutch, Russian, Slovenian and Greater Chinese. A TV Book Club 2011 pick in the UK, Tiger Hills was also longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Silverfish on August 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Just finished reading the book,and am left with mixed feelings. The first third sets a gentle pace, this is a love triangle, we most certainly can guess the final outcome, the question is how will it be resolved? In this part of the book, Mandanna showcases her exquisite descriptive skills. You are transported to another world, another era and you will love the experience.

Somewhere around page 100, the narrative takes off like a rocket. The story grabs you and takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

The final third is about the next generation. The narrative slows down, the author's ability to paint a rich background tapestry seems to disappear.
My thinking is that the five years she took to write this novel was used mostly for parts 1 and 2. Part 3 was probably written in a couple of weeks. Or, so it seems.

So,is this chick lit? Not really. Men would love to read it just as much as they loved to read GWTW. But this book is about suffering as only a woman could probably experience or understand it. My empathy with the heroine began to wane when she went into a forced marriage, it disappeared completely by the time she called someone very close to her a curse. I am sure I reacted like most men at this point: What the heck is she doing???!!! It's a Wilco Tango Foxtrot moment!

Being from Coorg I loved that the novel was set there, but a couple of things surprised me. Coorgs don't say dosa and meesa; they say dosae and meesae. Men do not tonsure before a funeral, it is done after. Mandanna describes the fields as being lushly green during the sowing. Every Coorg knows that, during transplanting, the fields are grey and muddy.

A couple of other things: Tukra the Poleya seems to have the run of the house.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gypsi Phillips Bates VINE VOICE on February 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tiger Hills takes place during British Colonial rule in the Coorg district (now Kodagu in Karnataka State) in southern India. It follows the lives of Devi and Devanna, and later Muthi, and their relationships with each other.

Devi, the much beloved first female child of several generations, is a headstrong girl from the beginning, wrapping her family around her finger and well aware of that power. She befriends the younger Devanna, and after he is orphaned he comes to live in her home. They grow up as siblings and the best of friends, but Devanna always expects that someday they will marry.

When a ten year old Devi sees Muthi at a "tiger wedding", she becomes immediately smitten with the 21 year old hunter and declares that she will marry him and only him. Her determination is not lost as the years pass, and leads to many complications and sorrows in the lives of all three.

Mandanna uses wonderful descriptive phrases to paint a sensory experience of the Coorg district. The colors and smells and sounds are vivid and, Mandanna's skill in filling the reader's senses is the strongest point of the novel.

The plot begins very slow, and when it does pick up it is to spiral the characters toward unpleasant events or unfortunate choices, none of which come as a surprise to the reader. Granted, a novel does not have to have a happy or pleasing plot to be an excellent novel, if it is well written--take Nabokov's Lolita, for example, which is one of the finest novels ever written. The prose of Tiger Hills, though, is not very striking (with the exception of the location descriptions), and I had to make myself continue to read. When Mandanna's plot planning and general writing match her descriptive ability, she will produce exceptional novels.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bis on May 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Reading this book is like taking a fascinating journey through the Coorg region of Southern India. Though many people (even in India) may not be familiar with that region and its people, I found that the theme of the book and the story of its characters have an universal appeal that people all over the world can relate to.

The book looked big but surprisingly right from the first chapter, the story was very well paced. It was a compelling page-turner and I found it hard to put down.

The author paints wonderful landscapes that spring to life and the detailed descriptions of the places make them seem like one is looking at a picture and not reading a book. In addition to the graphic descriptions of the region, the book uncannily captures the human emotions - be it the innocence and purity of the child's mind, the torment and confusion of adolescence or the everlasting emotions of true love.

The book provides great insights into the customs and traditions of the Coorgs. In addition, given that the book is set in the pre-independence colonial India period, it was very interesting to read about the descriptions of the English planters, the European missionaries and their influence on the local culture.

References to various regional and global historical events in the period that India transitioned from under the British empire to its independence are entwined in an exquisite manner into the story and its characters.

This book is a must read and is a wonderful item to gift to someone. I just ordered a second copy !
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