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Marrying Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India Hardcover – July 22, 2008

2.9 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In 2005, Jain announced in a New York magazine article that she was tired of American dating and would consider an arranged marriage, an Indian tradition she had always resisted. Only mildly piqued by her parents' endearing obsession with brokering a shaadi, she had ribbed her father for writing her profiles on Indian matchmaking Web sites. In a radical return to tradition, she decides to move to her native India in search of a husband. Pondering the foibles of American dating strengthens her resolve to embrace life in Delhi, even as she adjusts to its new cosmopolitan energy and Western attitudes. Jain struggles to negotiate the security of tradition with the allure of modernity. She is flummoxed by the caste system as well as the stigmas attached to single women. Torn between ‘old-world' suitors and the confident, latter-day Indian male, she concedes, ‘Dating in Delhi is no less complicated, perplexing and ego-deflating than in New York.' Even the ad her father places in the Times of India matrimonial pages (‘thirty-three years old, Harvard graduate . . . looking for broad-minded groom') fails to arouse much interest. With her world-weary yet earnest voice that finds humor in humiliation, Jain is sure to delight readers.” ―Publishers Weekly

“In a charmingly wry voice, [Jain] deftly interweaves the stories of friends, relatives and suitors, each tale illuminating another twist of the labyrinthine path to happiness offered by life in a subcontinent saturated by both tradition and technology...Jain's assured, insouciant intellectualism is as engaging to the reader as it is problematic in her search for a mate...A sparkling, enjoyable look at how globalization affects love.” ―Kirkus

“Written in a literary yet compulsively readable voice and with remarkably fresh and merciless analyses of dating trends in both New York City and the curiously liberated "New India" social climate of Delhi. Believe it or not, there are new things to be said about love and friendship, and Jain covers them.” ―Library Journal

About the Author

Anita Jain has worked as a journalist in a number of cities, including Mexico City, London, Singapore, New York, and New Delhi, where she currently lives. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Travel & Leisure. She graduated from Harvard University and grew up in northern California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596911859
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596911857
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,565,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really liked Anita, and enjoyed reading this book. It's well-written, candid, and full of very interesting observations and insights into both Indian and American culture. As I read along, though, I found it increasingly frustrating - and ultimately maddening - that Anita seemed to lack the slightest insight into herself. Specifically, the very traits she rails against the most are the ones she herself exhibits in spades.

The most laughable sentences in the book: "This so-called `fear of intimacy'... what is this? It seems rather unfathomable to me." What's unfathomable to *me* is how Anita can be unaware of how obviously terrified of intimacy she is. She rails against men who declare early on that they're not looking for anything serious. She doesn't seem to realize that it's much more insidious and irresponsible to declare that you *are* serious (and even to believe you're serious) about wanting something real, as she does - and then to have your every action and decision declare otherwise, as hers does.

If a man is married, or has a girlfriend, or lives on another continent, or has taken a vow of celibacy, or is inappropriate for her in every way, or is "just not that into her", or is downright cruel and heartless to her - well, she's all over him. On the other hand, if a man is appropriate, genuinely interested in her, well-intentioned and respectful, she can't seem to write him off or sabotage the relationship fast enough. News flash, Anita: these are classic symptoms of serious intimacy issues.

Case in point: her father arranges for her to meet a young man in whom she has no interest. She's much more taken with his chaperone - a handsome, accomplished, engaging and well-read professional.
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Format: Hardcover
Anita Jain's "Marrying Anita" has received many enthusiastic reviews. But quite a few readers who were born and raised in India, and steeped in Indian culture, were shocked and pained - her parents among them, I must say - to read this book. In an interview the author has said that her parents were "not happy" when they read the book.

Passages such as this will shock an average Indian not exposed to American culture. "Going to India to find a husband also raised other considerations. I wondered if I would be able to find someone modern enough in his thinking to be comfortable with a wife having a great deal of her own agency, not just in terms of making decisions for the household but in having a full life outside the marriage -- one that included going out with friends, drinking, and smoking. A woman who has had sex in the past -- and not just with those two long-term boyfriends. I wasn't sure what I would find, but I owed it to myself to try."

Written with wry humor blended with wit, and in a sarcastic tone, portions of the book are entertaining and highly readable. But there are many portions that caused me pain, shock and regret, especially at the needlessly snide remarks the author made about a couple of suitors. I think the problem is that even though her name, appearance, and lineage are Indian, she is not an Indian at heart, and she lacks basic knowledge about Indian culture, manners, and etiquette. Here is an example - this is what she has written about Lalit, one of her suitors:
"Lalit worked as a clerk at a shipping company, earning 8,000 rupees, less than $[...], a month. He'd never been to my upscale neighborhood. He greeted my parents -- "Namaste, Auntie. Namaste, Uncle" -- then surveyed the place, clearly thrown by the style in which I lived.
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Format: Hardcover
I was quite excited when my husband found this at the library. As a first generation Indian-American who also grew up in Northern California just a few years before Anita did, I felt that I could relate to her experiences.

Unfortunately, I found this "Sex in the City Meets Modern Delhi" to be underwhelming at best and frustrating at worst. At the beginning, as she describes her life in New York, I was thinking, "Poor woman, stuck in the superficiality of the New York dating scene. Once she gets to India, she will slow down and become more in touch with herself and her own values". She clearly demonstrated, however, that she brought that superficiality and lack of insight with her to Delhi. Drinking, smoking, partying, having sex, she would say, "So what, take me as I am!". Well, no one wanted to, and it was easy to see why. She was needlessly insulting and superficial to nice gentleman (making fun of their lack of proficiency in English... and even their pant leg length, no less (so junior high)... as ways to reject them). Forcing her father to get up and get her water just to "point out" her independence and mock her suitor was unbelievably immature. And, as mentioned before, getting completely drunk and spending 1/10 of your potential suitor's income on the first date is not a way to show that you will be a helpmeet through thick and thin -- it only shows that you are into self-gratification first and foremost. My husband, when I read it to him, said at the end, "Aren't you relieved that none of those guys ended up being married to her?".

Her wonderful father, while valuing her so highly, may have played a role in making Anita feel that she was too good for anyone, and may have ultimately done her a disservice.
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