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The Abundance: A Novel Hardcover – March 5, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This heartbreakingly lovely novel evocatively captures the often contentious but ultimately loving essence of a cross-generational Indian American family. Steeped in traditional Indian culture and customs while at the same time embracing their prosperous American lifestyle, the parental protagonists are often at odds with their more thoroughly westernized adult offspring. When they learn their mother is dying, physician Mala and investment banker Ronak return home, embarking on a family project revolving around that staple of the fictional memoir: food. As she teaches her formerly reluctant daughter the timeless art of ethnic Gujarati cuisine, the unnamed narrator copes with her physical deterioration by mentally unfurling her past. Meanwhile, new bonds are forged and old ones are strengthened as the family dynamic necessarily shifts. Majmudar, author of the highly regarded Partitions (2011), displays an understated flair for imagery and language, communicating the significance of the ties that bind without ever resorting to mawkish sentimentality. Delectable and convincing literary fiction that subtly shines the spotlight on some basic universal truths. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

“Sumptuous with recipes and reflection... Majmudar, who is also a poet, imbues his prose with phrases and metaphors that linger with the warmth of spices.” ―The Economist

“A wonder of lyrical and transparent writing.... Its complexity keeps The Abundance feeling so fresh and human: We hurt even when we mean to heal.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This heartbreakingly lovely novel evocatively captures the often contentious but ultimately loving essence of a cross-generational Indian American family.… Majmudar, author of the highly regarded Partitions, displays an understated flair for imagery and language, communicating the significance of the ties that bind without ever resorting to mawkish sentimentality. Delectable and convincing literary fiction that subtly shines the spotlight on some basic universal truths.” ―Booklist

“Majmudar’s magnificent fiction debut, Partitions, investigated the wrenching moral dilemmas posed by the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947; here, he trains the same unsparing yet compassionate eye on a contemporary family in the Midwest.... ‘This is not a book about dying,’ the narrator informs us. ‘This is a book about life.’ Indeed it is, and not life airbrushed by sentimentality, but life as it is actually experienced by flawed human beings―perfectly rendered by their gifted author. Beautifully written and deeply moving.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A moving story of motherhood across cultural divides... Powerful in its simplicity and honesty, The Abundance reminds us of the way our roots inevitably shape our adult selves.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A page-turner to tempt you… A sweet-and-spicy story of parenting across generational and cultural gaps.” ―Good Housekeeping

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780805096583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805096583
  • ASIN: 0805096582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this quiet little book. Our mother is the narrator who has found comfort in her providing food to fill the voids in her family. She has nurtured and cooked for her family throughout her life. As the book opens, she is told she has an unspecified cancer that will kill her in a short time. She starts her reflections on the fact that she does not really recognize her home India in her children, born and living in the States. She is unaccustomed to the way they have talked to her and the fact that they had never come to value the duties of Indian men and women. She delights in her grandchildren, but finds much about their raising to mystify her.

But this narrator has a gentle way of speaking of such disappointments. Of course she has started her discussion with the knowledge of her imminent death, but she forebears bitterness and entitlement. There is an air of the Indian daughter and daughter in law in her understanding of her role even now. As her daughter and son come closer to her in her illness, she is able to see herself and her husband in them, even in the spaces that are not able to be bridged. When her daughter asks to cook with her and to learn her recipes, it is to claim that part of her mother that she has finally learned to treasure.

I was put off reading this book a bit by the blurb which seemed to promise one of those cooking books with heart. But the cooking is not about the food entirely, it is about filling spaces of need and hunger. It is about living on in her children. It is about a way of life; after all Indian recipes often demanding a whole rhythm to the days in their complexity. We learn to see her children in their complexity of distance and closeness; tradition and new ways; sweet and sharp. I felt the abundance of her life in a lovely way, not cloying or simplistic, but rich and satisfying. It is a book to savor like a lovely meal prepared for you by someone who cares.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Abundance" is a story of relationships in a family of accomplished people who haven't always put family first. It is also the story of how the matriarch's inoperable cancer changes those priorities. The topic has been covered plenty of times in books and movies, and yet, Amit Majmudar does it in a way that is unique and moving. Every page is full of exquisite writing like a metaphor comparing previously important information to old Scotch Tape that had lost its stickiness. He pokes gentle fun at anyone who has ever worked to learn a new language and, even after years, makes mistakes like "spic-or-span." He is masterful in his use of voice, nailing the speech and views of the protagonist's financially-driven son and career-driven daughter.

Thirty-something Majmudar takes a risk writing an entire novel in the first person point of view of an older dying woman. And he does a completely convincing job. He fleshes out his characters so authentically that it's easy to forget these are not real people. The protagonist faults herself for not staying true to the old ways yet silently criticizes her children for so readily dropping Indians traditions for American ones. As the year and the illness progress, her children and their families rally round, carving time from their mother's dwindling days. For Americans used to fast food and 24/7 connectivity, the unhurried pace and action may be a turn off. But if you take time to savor the lovely writing and the relationships that unfold, much like the protagonist's cooking, the final result is a beautiful, unforgettable literary feast.
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Format: Hardcover
Mala and Ronak's mother has a secret. She has terminal cancer. However is does not want her children to know as she does not want to ruin their visit home. She does not do a good job of hiding her secret. Once Mala and Ronak find out, they decide to spend more time with their mother. For Mala this means learning how to cook traditional Indian food. For Ronak, he pays a crew to plant his mother's garden as she can not get out to do it herself.

I have not read Mr. Majmudar's Partitions, however after reading this book I will check it out. I absolutely loved, loved this book. Yes, I said loved twice. I could not read this book fast enough.

This book is about family, love, friendship, food, and a happy ending. All filled with an intriguing cast of characters. My favorite person however is Mala and Ronak's mother. She was kind and had such a caring heart. Even with her dying of terminal cancer she still put her family first. I thought that I would not like Mala in the beginning because she did have a bit of an edge to her but luckily it did not last long. Mala turned out to be a better mother to her two children due to her own mother and how close they became. All the yummy foods that they cooked together had my mouth watering. If books had smell-o-vision then I would be in trouble. I would have to make sure that I did not eat the book. Both Ronak and Mala and Ronak's father were caring and warm-hearted. It was so easy to fall in love with everyone. The ending put a big smile on my face. The Abundance is filled with happiness, love, great food, loving characters, and a pinch of spice to make the right recipe for a best seller!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My family was Irish not Indian but my mother was a lot like the character in this book. Lots of complaining that we were not more successful with the opposite sex high expectations but little confidence. She was hardest on herself embracing the very narrow role that women were given (much more narrow here than in India) and she was critical when I took a more professional path for my own life. In spite of the fact that this is a story about a wonderful strong courageous woman facing her own death I found myself often wanting to shake her "What is wrong with you? Don't you see the impossible positions that women are in? Stop making it harder and harder to please you." In spite of my own conflicts I do recommend this book.
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