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This title in other editions

The Toss of a Lemon

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The Toss of a Lemon Cover

ISBN13: 9780547247878
ISBN10: 0547247877
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Viswanathan . . . achieves something that is in many way more nuanced than the broad brushstrokes of an epic: a meditation on fate's workings in a family dominated by the quiet rule of one woman." —The Washington Post Book World

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 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. Heartbreaking, exhilarating, and profoundly exotic, The Toss of a Lemon is above all an evocation of the tensions that change brings to every family.
 
"Padma Viswanathan has real talent." —New York Times Book Review

"[An] exquisite debut novel. . . . [E]lectrifying." —Baltimore Sun
 
Padma Viswanathan is a fiction writer, playwright and journalist. Her writing awards include residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Banff Playwright's Colony, and 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.

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.

About the Author

Padma Viswanathan is a fiction writer, playwright and journalist. Her writing awards include residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Banff Playwright's Colony, and first place in the 2006 Boston Review Short Story Contest. She received her Creative Writing MA from Johns Hopkins and her MFA from the University of Arizona. She lives in 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!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780547247878
Author:
Viswanathan, Padma
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Author:
Padma Viswanathan
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-Family Life
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20090931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
636
Dimensions:
8.00 x 5.31 in

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The Toss of a Lemon Used Trade Paper
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$4.95 In Stock
Product details 636 pages Mariner Books - English 9780547247878 Reviews:
"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.

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