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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Atlas of Unknowns

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Atlas of Unknowns Cover

ISBN13: 9780307268907
ISBN10: 030726890x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A poignant, funny, blazingly original debut novel about sisterhood, the tantalizing dream of America, and the secret histories and hilarious eccentricities of families everywhere.

In the wake of their mothers mysterious death, Linno and Anju are raised in Kerala by their father, Melvin, a reluctant Christian prone to bouts of dyspepsia, and their grandmother, the superstitious and strong-willed Ammachi. When Anju wins a scholarship to a prestigious school in America, she seizes the opportunity, even though it means betraying her sister. In New York, Anju is plunged into the elite world of her Hindu American host family, led by a well-known television personality and her fiendishly ambitious son, a Princeton drop out determined to make a documentary about Anjus life. But when Anju finds herself ensnared by her own lies, she runs away and lands a job as a bikini waxer in a Queens beauty salon.

Meanwhile, back in Kerala, Linno is undergoing a transformation of her own, rejecting the wealthy blind suitor with whom her father had sought to arrange her marriage and using her artistic gifts as a springboard to entrepreneurial success. When Anju goes missing, Linno strikes out farther still, with a scheme to procure a visa so that she can travel to America to search for her vanished sister.

The convergence of their journeys—toward each other, toward America, toward a new understanding of self and country, and toward a heartbreaking mystery long buried in their shared past—brings to life a predicament that is at once modern and timeless: the hunger for independence and the longing for home; the need to preserve the past and the yearning to break away from it. Tania James combines the gifts of an old-fashioned storyteller—engrossing drama, flawless control of plot, beautifully drawn characters, surprises around every turn—with a voice that is fresh and funny and powerfully alive with the dilemmas of modern life. She brings grace, humor, deep feeling, and the command of a born novelist to this marvelous debut.

Review:

"In this perfectly adequate tale of bicontinental love, betrayal and secrets, sisters Anju and Linno Vallara live in Kerala, India, raised by their father after their mother's apparent suicide. Crippled Linno establishes herself as a talented artist, a skill Anju ruthlessly claims as her own, passing off Linno's paintings as hers to win a scholarship to study art in New York. When Anju's dishonesty is eventually exposed, her future crumbles and she runs away, surviving only due to her friendship with Bird, a stranger who carries a key to their mother's mysterious past. Meanwhile, Linno, who once resigned herself to being her family's servant, has built a career and, despite her sister's betrayal, resolves to find Anju and bring her home. As that reunion looms, layers of lies and secrets are exposed until the reader, if not the sisters, glimpses the tangle of honesty and loyalties underpinning the story. James paints Kerala and immigrant New York with identical depth and ease, and the story is a readable balance of well-crafted plot and artful emotion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

James's poignant, funny, blazingly original debut is a story about sisterhood, the tantalizing dream of America, and the secret histories and hilarious eccentricities of families everywhere.

About the Author

Tania James was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia universities. She has published her work in One Story and The New York Times. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

M Saleem Seyal, M.D., May 2, 2009 (view all comments by M Saleem Seyal, M.D.)
Tania James is a gifted writer whose debut novel, "Atlas of Unknowns" is an engrossing tale of two young girls- Anju & Linno, sisters from Kerala in south India, who are the main characters in this absorbing story of a lower middle class family that includes their father-Melvin and his mother-Ammachi. Gracie, their mother had committed suicide. Anju wins scholarship to attend high school in the United States but her arrival in New York is based on her betrayal of Linno who despite an amputated hand is a brilliant artist and Anju had misrepresented Linno's artwork as hers to win the scholarship. When truth comes to light, she hurriedly leaves the school, purposely loses contact with her family in India and the fabulously wealthy host Indian expatriate family and lives with Birdie- a middle-aged Indian actress who, it turns out , was her mother's old friend. Her host family's son, a quirky Princeton dropout who eventually seeks her out and finds her, is an aspiring documentarian who is bent on recording her struggle to become a legal immigrant to the United States. Linno, in the meanwhile has landed a job as an artist who creates Hallmark-style invitation cards and tries to procure visa to come to the United States to find her sister. There ia a panoply of complex and interesting characters throughout the book. Tania James writes in beautiful prose with remarkable vividness and with heartfelt conviction. There are unexpected turns and twists in the story and this beautifully written novel is a true page-turner.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307268907
Author:
James, Tania
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Sisters
Subject:
East Indians
Subject:
Kerala (India)
Subject:
Sisters - India
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090421
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 in 1.375 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Atlas of Unknowns Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307268907 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this perfectly adequate tale of bicontinental love, betrayal and secrets, sisters Anju and Linno Vallara live in Kerala, India, raised by their father after their mother's apparent suicide. Crippled Linno establishes herself as a talented artist, a skill Anju ruthlessly claims as her own, passing off Linno's paintings as hers to win a scholarship to study art in New York. When Anju's dishonesty is eventually exposed, her future crumbles and she runs away, surviving only due to her friendship with Bird, a stranger who carries a key to their mother's mysterious past. Meanwhile, Linno, who once resigned herself to being her family's servant, has built a career and, despite her sister's betrayal, resolves to find Anju and bring her home. As that reunion looms, layers of lies and secrets are exposed until the reader, if not the sisters, glimpses the tangle of honesty and loyalties underpinning the story. James paints Kerala and immigrant New York with identical depth and ease, and the story is a readable balance of well-crafted plot and artful emotion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , James's poignant, funny, blazingly original debut is a story about sisterhood, the tantalizing dream of America, and the secret histories and hilarious eccentricities of families everywhere.
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