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Love Marriageby V. V. Ganeshananthan
"Love Marriage covers the decades of these family stories in brief vignettes, a style that can feel fragmented and cause some character confusion. Still, this is a minor complaint about an otherwise powerful story. Gail Tsukiyama, Ms. Magazine (read the entire Ms. Magazine review)
Synopses & Reviews
In this globe-scattered Sri Lankan family, we speak of only two kinds of marriage. The first is the Arranged Marriage. The second is the Love Marriage. In reality, there is a whole spectrum in between, but most of us spend years running away from the first toward the second.
The daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who left their collapsing country and married in America, Yalini finds herself caught between the traditions of her ancestors and the lure of her own modern world. But when she is summoned to Toronto to help care for her dying uncle, Kumaran, a former member of the militant Tamil Tigers, Yalini is forced to see that violence is not a relic of the Sri Lankan past, but very much a part of her Western present.
While Kumaran's loved ones gather around him to say goodbye, Yalini traces her family's roots — and the conflicts facing them as ethnic Tamils — through a series of marriages. Now, as Kumaran's death and his daughter's politically motivated nuptials edge closer, Yalini must decide where she stands.
Lyrical and innovative, V. V. Ganeshananthan's novel brilliantly unfolds how generations of struggle both form and fractures families.
"Several generations of a Sri Lankan family touched by the country's civil war confront the limits of ethnic and familial allegiance in Ganeshananthan's forceful but patchy debut. First-generation American Yalini, daughter of Sri Lankan Tamil parents Vani and Murali, is an awkward 22-year-old who has spent her youth burdened by family secrets from their lives before emigration. Confronted with her enigmatic dying uncle, Kumaran, who had a shadowy role in Sri Lanka's insurgent Tamil Tigers, Yalini is driven to examine her relatives' marriages as a means of figuring out their alliances and her own unsettled identity. Her parents fell in love in New York and escaped arranged marriages back home; her grandparents, aunts and uncles have their own stories; Kumaran's 18-year-old daughter chooses to wed a Tamil Tiger financier. Written in short blocks of text, the book is structured as a kind of day book where Yalini records her progress. Repetitions create a meditative mood, but dull the book's emotional core and make emphasis on marriage seem forced. The most vivid character, Rajie, the daughter of an old family friend, appears only briefly. And the issues that plague Yalini remain vague until the last third of the novel, when the narrative suddenly takes on real power." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A beautiful first novel. This intricately woven tale, with its universal themes of love and estrangement, presents an exciting new voice in American literature." Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
"Complex and moving...an impressive debut." Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio
"V. V. Ganeshananthan has given us a riveting picture of the intersections of love and war that shape us all. A debut of incredible passion and wisdom." Rebecca Johns, author of Icebergs
"Written in sparse vignettes replete with emotional recollections of the past, Ganeshananthan's first novel imagines a rich and haunting family history." Booklist
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