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Madras on Rainy Days: A Novel Paperback – December 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In this painstakingly detailed but strained debut, Ali explores the stifling world of Indian Muslim domestic life and the odd partnership forged by husband and wife in an arranged marriage fraught with secrets. As the novel begins, Layla, a 20-something Muslim who grew up mostly in the United States, is preparing for her marriage in Hyderabad, India, to Sameer, a man she barely knows. The elaborate ceremonies leading up to the wedding day are undercut by Layla's memories of her secret American boyfriend and by her painful cramps as she suffers through a prolonged miscarriage. Family tensions also mount-Layla's bitter divorced mother rails at her father, who has remarried-but Layla soldiers on, eventually warming to Sameer, a good-looking engineer with modern ideas of his own. After the wedding, the young couple grow steadily closer, but Layla is unable to coax Sameer to consummate the marriage. At first she thinks she is to blame, but on their honeymoon trip to Madras, she learns differently from an unexpected visitor. As Ali shows, it is not only American-raised Muslims who are seduced by Western ideals of independence and romantic love; in the end, Sameer and Layla make a complex, unconventional peace. Striving laudably for subtlety, but never quite managing to achieve a natural rhythm, Ali loses her readers with earnest, stilted conversation and exposition. At the novel's climax, the introduction of yet another weighty but insufficiently digested theme-Hindu-Muslim violence-gives the tale an extra edge of darkness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Ali's first novel is set in the Indian city of Hyderabad, where Layla is days away from her arranged marriage to Sameer, a handsome young engineer. But Layla is harboring a secret: before she left her home in America, she slept with an American man and became pregnant. Layla has been taking pills to abort the baby, but they've caused her to bleed constantly. Her distraught mother takes her to a spiritual healer, but he is unable to help, and the wedding goes forward despite Layla's concerns. On their first night together she confesses to Sameer that she is not a virgin, and a rift forms instantly between the young newlyweds. Layla finds her new in-laws welcoming and overjoyed to have her, and she warms to her husband and longs to consummate their marriage. But Sameer has a secret as well, one that could ruin his marriage to Layla before it has really begun. Religious clashes and civil unrest also factor into this powerful, atmospheric novel of modern-day India. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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