- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Soho Press (June 13, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616957905
- ISBN-13: 978-1616957902
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Marriage of a Thousand Lies Hardcover – June 13, 2017
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Praise for Marriage of a Thousand Lies
"A remarkable novel rich with interlocking issues both timeless and timely. SJ Sindu’s debut is more than impressive; it’s important."
—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“I love Lucky, the unforgettable narrator of Marriage of a Thousand Lies. She has taken a place among my favorite misfits in literature, a young woman longing for love and tradition and celebration and family even as she defies expectations and navigates her own paths. I’m especially captivated by the novel’s honesty and tenderness—SJ Sindu is an intuitive writer with great insights into the complications of love and friendship.”
—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
"SJ Sindu has written an important novel about Sri Lankan immigrant culture. Here, the intersections of migration, sexuality and culture are explored in loving and heartbreaking detail. A book that reveals the secrets of a community caught between East and West."
—Nayomi Munaweera, author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors
—The Toronto Star
"Enthralling . . . Sindu is a skilled writer, and this is a remarkable first novel."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Marriage of a Thousand Lies is a rare book, written from a queer, South Asian perspective, but a welcome addition to an all-too-small canon."
"[Sindu] has written a debut novel that is honest and moving—a complex story about a Sri-Lankan family and a strong female protagonist who struggles with her own identity against a backdrop of deep traditions and community."
"Sindu’s heart-wrenching debut novel . . . incorporates love, loss, family, rebirth and growth to tell a captivating story you won’t be able to put down."
"Marriage of a Thousand Lies is a fascinating work."
"Sindu takes on the conflict between love of family and of oneself with clarity and laughs."
"So good . . . heartbreaking in the way it portrayed the characters torn between happiness and custom. SJ Sindu does a beautiful job describing how Lucky feels about living a secret life and her fear of disappointing her parents, and the language and imagery is gorgeous."
"SJ Sindu’s fine debut [is] a timely tale with themes of immigration, free will, identity, and personal choice."
"An important intervention in the canons of both LGBTQ and South Asian literature. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is not only important: it’s also a beautiful book, with fresh, tidy prose, and complex, flawed characters, a novel that is at once sad and hopeful."
"Marriage of a Thousand Lies is a deeply affecting work in many ways."
"A well-written debut . . . brings to light the layers of struggles that shape our decisions on how we choose to live our lives. "
"A poignant, heart-warming love story."
—Youth Ki Awaaz
About the Author
SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is her first novel.
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Top customer reviews
This was a hard and poignant look at life for those who are queer and their struggle in the desi-American immigrant story.
Lucky, who has short hair and a preference for men’s clothing, escaped from the most onerous demands that she marry a Hindu man by marrying a gay one, Krishna, called “Kris.” It has been a few years and now the pressure is to produce a child. Kris, who has ingratiated himself to the Boston Tamil community, is willing… and has always promised to divorce Lucky if Lucky’s childhood best friend and first love, Nisha, will marry her.
Succumbing to pressure to wed, Nisha has agreed to an arranged marriage. Nisha wants to get out from other her mother’s domination, but is very well aware that marriage will change from one dominator to another. She is willing to have sex with Lucky and to drink with some lesbian rugby players, but not to cut herself off from family and community by running away with Lucky. Lucky keeps hoping, especially after a visit from Vidya and Vidya’s daughter.
There is a lot of community pressure, exacerbated by the scandal of her parents’ divorce and even with a very complaisant play-husband who would probably be a good father, Lucky is tired of living lies, even as Nisha drifts toward marrying a proper Hindu husband, explaining “We’re not like them [native-born American lesbians]. We have to think about our families. If we lived like them [free to flout sex/gender conventions], we’d lose everything” and “I don’t want to spend m life fighting a war I can’t win.”.
SJ Sindu has created an engaging narrator and an acute portrayal of the demands for heteronormative conformity on American-born daughters of a close-knit and acutely censorious immigrant community. There is a continuum of breaking away: from Vidya to Lucky to Nisha (to Kris, whose family is far away, though when he came out at home was locked down, as Nisha eventually is, but he escaped back to the US and sexual relations with men and the cover of marriage to a Hindu woman). Despite identifying with the young(ishÚ 27-year-old) rebel, I could sympathize with the mother already suffering community opprobrium and trying to shield her daughter (as much as shielding herself) from being gossiped about and shunned by it. To put it mildly, as she says, the community is not kind to unmarried women, even ones who have reproduced. I could not, however, sympathize with Nisha’s mother intent on marrying her daughter off and unwilling even to think that a daughter of hers might have inclinations she considers deviant.
Set in 2012 in America, Lucky's story is a coming-out novel and an exploration of a culture many readers may not be familiar with--dances, signing the marriage license at an engagement party, Sri Lakshmi temples, Rajnikanth movies from Bollywood--and yet it's a novel about the complications and secrets of a family: a grandmother with dementia, children of divorced parents navigating the father's second marriage and loyalties to the mother, pressures to conform to culture and family traditions. There are many contradictions in this novel, illustrating that life is more open-ended than we realize. For example, because the novel takes place in 2012, a recurring theme is the Sri Lankan community, particularly on the East Coast, turning out to vote for President Barack Obama, who made gay marriage and diversity one of his themes, and oddly, winning the support of people who disapprove of homosexuality. Marriage and stability seem important to Lucky's family and particularly her mother (who avoids being a caricature and is instead a figure who evokes sympathy despite her harshness), yet her father, her Appa, has divorced her mother and married her mother's best friend, Laila Aunty.
Lucky herself is nuanced: she is a lesbian who marries Kris, a gay man, so both of them will have respectability without sacrificing who they truly are, even though they cannot live their truth and be accepted by their families and community. Lucky is entertaining and sympathetic, especially in her love for her best friend Nisha.
The writing is particularly fine, elevating what might otherwise have been a conventional coming-out story. SJ Sindu masters the art of "show don't tell" so that we get to experience and understand Lucky's world and characters get to dance as vividly as in a sangeet. Sindu lets Lucky tell her own story with honesty and candor, including exposing Lucky's own blind spots and evasions. I felt sadness over the conflicted relationship between Lucky and her mother in particular, and definitely had a soft spot for Ammamma, the grandmother.