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Song of the Cuckoo Bird: A Novel by [Malladi, Amulya]
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Song of the Cuckoo Bird: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 401 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Malladi's fourth novel transports readers on a cinematic journey through late-twentieth-century India as seen through the eyes of the inhabitants of Tella Meda, a religious community on the Bay of Bengal. Kokila comes to the ashram in 1961 as an 11-year-old orphan. She later renounces her arranged marriage to stay within Tella Meda's restrictive walls, a move she comes to regret. The ashram's guru attracts a cast of misfits from near and far--widows, abused wives and their neglected children, the daughter of a prostitute, a father guilty over his daughter's suicide--each illuminated by Malladi in her kaleidoscopic perusal of both the ills of India's caste system and the repercussions of rigid moral dicta. Running historical updates on India's wars, elections, and assassinations introduce each chapter. But the crux of the novel is how Malladi's female characters struggle with the stifling effects of caste and gradually respond to the movement for women's rights that surges as the century draws to a close. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“A sprawling, gorgeous intergenerational saga, in which the spice and savor of traditional India progresses painfully into the present–the changing of women’s lives and the dimunition of the man as household god. Told through the mysterious embroidery of one family’s tapestry–its life, loves, regrets, secrets, deaths, and even what comes after death–Song of the Cuckoo Bird is mesmerizing.”
–Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and The Breakdown Lane


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1090 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU8DN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,023 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this book and just had to write a review. I read a lot of books by Indian authors and as an Indian there are times that I am disappointed and unimpressed, this is not one of those times. "Song of the Cuckoo Bird" is a truly fabulous experience as it takes you through the lives of people living in an ashram over a span of almost 50 years. This was an inspiring read. I especially loved the chapter about the ashram getting a television; I remember those times well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Song of the Cuckoo Bird is a fascinating book portraying the different customs in Indian culture and how outcasts live by these customs.

Kokilia, a young Indian girl, comes to live in Tella Meda, an ashram, where she must wait to menstruate before she goes to live with her husband. She decides that she doesn't want to leave and lives there for the rest of her life amongst other people who are not accepted anywhere else, whether they are the daughter of a prostitute or a widow whose relatives do not want her. The relationships between the characters are very intriguing, and are slightly similar to the tight-knit environment of a small high school. The people in the ashram all have different morals, values, and beliefs, and this often leads to conflict. However, they all have one thing in common that binds them together; they have no other place to go.

It is amazing to read how the characters hurdle obstacle after obstacle and carry on with life despite their numerous problems. The chapters alternate points of view and show the differences between the characters' hopes and fears and how they think of each other. What I like the most about this book is how all of the characters still hold onto their aspirations despite their social situations. Also, I like how the author mentions what is happening politically in India while the residents of Tella Meda are carrying on their everyday lifestyles. Because they are so out of touch with the real world, these things do not affect the characters. It is interesting to see the differences of how the death of a prime minister is handled by an urban city dweller compared to how it is handled by a poor outcast in a small town. What seems like a big deal in the city seems like nothing in Tella Meda.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book! I have read other books by Amulya and have liked them but this one is truly superior. The story is beautiful, the characters interesting and the writing remarkable. I recommend this book to everyone interested in India and who want to read a novel written not specifically for a "foreign" audience, but one that just tells a story without pretense.
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Format: Paperback
An epic tale, SONG OF THE CUCKOO BIRD tells the story of the residents of an ashram called Tella Meda, "The House with the White Roof." Those who live there are poor and destitute and have no place to go. Established in the 1950s as a home for wayward people, it also houses a girl who is deemed to be a goddess. Charvi is that young goddess; when she's born her father declares her a deity. The people in the village bring her offerings, and in turn Charvi's family gives individuals a place to stay, food, and blessings from the goddess. No one ever doubts the veracity of the situation, and even Charvi grows up believing that this is her fate, never questioning what she has been told for as long as she can remember.

Tella Meda is an integral character in the book, as it changes from its early beginnings and ends its life in the new millennium. During the 40-plus years of its existence, people come and go. One of the main characters is Kokila, whose name means "cuckoo bird." It is mostly through her eyes that the reader will watch the changes happening there. Kokila is an orphan who is placed at Tella Meda upon her marriage at age 11 and is told to stay there until she experiences her first menses. At that point she will be allowed to live with her husband.

However, at the appointed time, Kokila rejects her spouse and states that she will never leave Tella Meda, thus changing the course of her life forever. Instead, Kokila has fallen in love with her caretaker's son, Vidura, who, along with many of the other inhabitants of Tella Meda, eventually will leave and never be heard from again.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My treasured mother recommended this book!!! There are so many things I love about this book the first of all that it is set in INDIA!!! Generally I find books set in India and written by Indian authors wonderful and this was no exception.

What else did I love? It is set in a Ashram with a female guru. The Ashram is run by the bizarre father of the guru and how he impacts each of the inhabitants is fascinating. Each woman is located at the ashram because of less than perfect circumstances and watching them grow as souls is delicious. I loved the depiction of Indian culture and relationships. The rich way the author describes all aspects of this book like feeling a complex fabric tapestry. Oh the depiction of different types of love soul opening!!
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