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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

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The Toss of a Lemon

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The Toss of a Lemon Cover

ISBN13: 9780151015337
ISBN10: 0151015333
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The year of the marriage proposal, Sivakami is ten. She is neither tall nor short for her age, but she will not grow much more. Her shoulders are narrow but appear solid, as though the blades are fused to protect her heart from the back. She carries herself with an attractive stiffness: her shoulders straight and always aligned. She looks capable of bearing great burdens, not as though born to yoke but perhaps as though born with a yoke within her.

Spanning the lifetime of one woman (1896–1962), The Toss of a Lemon brings us intimately into a Brahmin household, into an India weve never before seen. Married at ten, widowed at eighteen, left with two children, Sivakami must wear widows whites, shave her head, and touch no one from dawn to dusk. She is not allowed to remarry, and in the next sixty years she ventures outside her family compound only three times. She is extremely orthodox in her behavior except for one defiant act: She moves back to her dead husbands house and village to raise her children. That decision sets the course of her childrens and grandchildrens lives, twisting their fates in surprising, sometimes heartbreaking ways.

Inspired by her grandmother's stories, Padma Viswanathan masterfully brings to life a profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable family in the midst of social and political upheaval. The Toss of a Lemon is the debut of a major new writer.

 

Review:

"Journalist, playwright and short-story writer Viswanathan's absorbing first novel, based on her grandmother's life, goes deep into the world of southern India village life. Starting in 1896, the story follows Sivakami, a Tamil Brahmin girl, from her marriage at the age of 10 through her long widowhood, while Indian political and social life lumbers through immense changes. Before he dies, Sivakami's astrologer husband, Hanumarathnam, foresees his death in the malignant interactions between his stars and his son Vairum's. Though he trains a trustworthy servant to assist Sivakami until their son comes of age, the world that Hanumarathnam leaves behind is rapidly changing, and the family is not entirely fit to survive it; Vairum, especially, suffers the pain of a father's disaffection and, later, a widowed mother forbidden to touch any human being during daylight hours. Irreconcilable conflicts between tradition — especially the strict caste rules of Brahmin life — and the modernizing world lead predictably to alienation and tragedy, but on an epic scale. Viswanathan is especially adept at unobtrusively explaining foreign customs and worldviews to Westerners while wholly respecting the power and significance they hold for practitioners. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

A novel set in the Indian subcontinent and published in the West bears the burdens of our preconceptions. It is easy to assume that a book about a high-caste child bride who becomes a widow will fix its sights only on the girl's woes and the deep injustices of caste. But while Padma Viswanathan's first novel, "The Toss of a Lemon," has at its heart a 10-year-old Brahmin girl who marries an ill-fated... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

Spanning the lifetime of one woman, this debut novel offers an intimate look into a Brahmin household. Inspired by her grandmother's stories, Viswanathan masterfully brings to life a profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable family in the midst of social and political upheaval.

Synopsis:

An amazingly accomplished first novel that takes us into India's Brahmin world from 1890-1962.

Synopsis:

Sivakami was married at ten, widowed at eighteen, and left with two children. According to the dictates of her caste, her head is shaved and she puts on widow's whites. From dawn to dusk, she is not allowed to contaminate herself with human touch, not even to comfort her small children.
 
Sivakami dutifully follows custom, except for one defiant act: She moves back to her dead husband's house to raise her children. There, her servant Muchami, a closeted gay man who is bound by a different caste's rules, becomes her public face. Their singular relationship holds three generations of the family together through the turbulent first half of the twentieth century, as India endures great social and political change. But as time passes, the family changes, too; Sivakami's son will question the strictures of the very beliefs that his mother has scrupulously upheld. 
 
The Toss of a Lemon is heartbreaking and exhilarating, profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable in evoking the tensions that change brings to every family.

Synopsis:

The year of the marriage proposal, Sivakami is ten. She is neither tall nor short for her age, but she will not grow much more. Her shoulders are narrow but appear solid, as though the blades are fused to protect her heart from the back. She carries herself with an attractive stiffness: her shoulders straight and always aligned. She looks capable of bearing great burdens, not as though born to yoke but perhaps as though born with a yoke within her.

Spanning the lifetime of one woman (1896–1962), The Toss of a Lemon brings us intimately into a Brahmin household, into an India weve never before seen.Married at ten, widowed at eighteen, left with two children, Sivakami must wear widows whites, shave her head, and touch no one from dawn to dusk. She is not allowed to remarry, and in the next sixty years she ventures outside her family compound only three times. She is extremely orthodox in her behavior except for one defiant act: She moves back to her dead husbands house and village to raise her children. That decision sets the course of her childrens and grandchildrens lives, twisting their fates in surprising, sometimes heartbreaking ways.

Inspired by her grandmother's stories, Padma Viswanathan masterfully brings to life a profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable family in the midst of social and political upheaval. The Toss of a Lemon is the debut of a major new writer.

 

About the Author

PADMA VISWANATHAN is a fiction writer, playwright, and journalist. She was awarded first place in the 2006 Boston Review Short Story Contest. She lives with the poet and translator Geoffrey Brock and their children in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Gypsi, June 5, 2010 (view all comments by Gypsi)
The Toss of a Lemon is the beautifully written, gently told lifetime story of Sivakami, a Brahmin woman, and her household. The reader follows Sivakami from her marriage ceremony in 1896 at ten, through her widowhood at eighteen, her establishment of her own household (against custom) and then watches the paths taken by Sivakami and her children and grandchildren until death in 1962. The focus easily changes between Sivakami and other family members, presenting a full and fascinating picture of a Brahmin household and of life in India at that time. This was a book I read slowly, not because it was tedious or difficult to read, but because I wanted to savor it, and not miss any, even minor, detail.

Unlike many historical novels, The Toss of a Lemon is very realistic in that, though there are many major historical events happening, they are not generally immediately effecting Sivakami and her family. This was quite refreshing and gave this novel the feel of real life.

In a way, I was reminded of the novels of Jane Austen, in which not a whole lot happens that might be considered earth shaking and yet, one must keep reading. Sivakami and her family were so well fleshed out, their lives so fully drawn, that I grew to know them, and their domestic concerns were of great importance to me, as well. And while it is a family epic, so to speak, I was not overwhelmed by length of the story or by many changes in characters.

The one discordant note in this lovely work is that Ms. Viswanathan tended to switch back and forth between present tense and past tense verbs. I found that to be distracting and as a result, could not give The Toss of a Lemon a full five stars.

Despite that, The Toss of a Lemon is truly a wonderful book that brought alive a time and place and culture of which I had no previous knowledge. I most certainly recommend this!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780151015337
Author:
Viswanathan, Padma
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Author:
Padma Viswanathan
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Asia - India & South Asia
Subject:
India
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
India Social life and customs.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20090901
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
636
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Toss of a Lemon Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 636 pages Harcourt - English 9780151015337 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Journalist, playwright and short-story writer Viswanathan's absorbing first novel, based on her grandmother's life, goes deep into the world of southern India village life. Starting in 1896, the story follows Sivakami, a Tamil Brahmin girl, from her marriage at the age of 10 through her long widowhood, while Indian political and social life lumbers through immense changes. Before he dies, Sivakami's astrologer husband, Hanumarathnam, foresees his death in the malignant interactions between his stars and his son Vairum's. Though he trains a trustworthy servant to assist Sivakami until their son comes of age, the world that Hanumarathnam leaves behind is rapidly changing, and the family is not entirely fit to survive it; Vairum, especially, suffers the pain of a father's disaffection and, later, a widowed mother forbidden to touch any human being during daylight hours. Irreconcilable conflicts between tradition — especially the strict caste rules of Brahmin life — and the modernizing world lead predictably to alienation and tragedy, but on an epic scale. Viswanathan is especially adept at unobtrusively explaining foreign customs and worldviews to Westerners while wholly respecting the power and significance they hold for practitioners. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Spanning the lifetime of one woman, this debut novel offers an intimate look into a Brahmin household. Inspired by her grandmother's stories, Viswanathan masterfully brings to life a profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable family in the midst of social and political upheaval.
"Synopsis" by ,
An amazingly accomplished first novel that takes us into India's Brahmin world from 1890-1962.
"Synopsis" by ,

Sivakami was married at ten, widowed at eighteen, and left with two children. According to the dictates of her caste, her head is shaved and she puts on widow's whites. From dawn to dusk, she is not allowed to contaminate herself with human touch, not even to comfort her small children.
 
Sivakami dutifully follows custom, except for one defiant act: She moves back to her dead husband's house to raise her children. There, her servant Muchami, a closeted gay man who is bound by a different caste's rules, becomes her public face. Their singular relationship holds three generations of the family together through the turbulent first half of the twentieth century, as India endures great social and political change. But as time passes, the family changes, too; Sivakami's son will question the strictures of the very beliefs that his mother has scrupulously upheld. 
 
The Toss of a Lemon is heartbreaking and exhilarating, profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable in evoking the tensions that change brings to every family.

"Synopsis" by ,

The year of the marriage proposal, Sivakami is ten. She is neither tall nor short for her age, but she will not grow much more. Her shoulders are narrow but appear solid, as though the blades are fused to protect her heart from the back. She carries herself with an attractive stiffness: her shoulders straight and always aligned. She looks capable of bearing great burdens, not as though born to yoke but perhaps as though born with a yoke within her.

Spanning the lifetime of one woman (1896–1962), The Toss of a Lemon brings us intimately into a Brahmin household, into an India weve never before seen.Married at ten, widowed at eighteen, left with two children, Sivakami must wear widows whites, shave her head, and touch no one from dawn to dusk. She is not allowed to remarry, and in the next sixty years she ventures outside her family compound only three times. She is extremely orthodox in her behavior except for one defiant act: She moves back to her dead husbands house and village to raise her children. That decision sets the course of her childrens and grandchildrens lives, twisting their fates in surprising, sometimes heartbreaking ways.

Inspired by her grandmother's stories, Padma Viswanathan masterfully brings to life a profoundly exotic yet utterly recognizable family in the midst of social and political upheaval. The Toss of a Lemon is the debut of a major new writer.

 

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