Synopses & Reviews
A powerful, funny, richly observed tour de force by one of America’s most acclaimed young writers: a story of love and marriage, secrets and betrayals, that takes us from the backyards of America to the back alleys and villages of Bangladesh.
In The Newlyweds, we follow the story of Amina Mazid, who at age twenty-four moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is an arranged marriage for the twenty-first century: Amina is wooed by — and woos — George Stillman online.
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life and a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when they put an ocean between them — and Amina returns to Bangladesh — that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.
The Newlyweds is a surprising, suspenseful story about the exhilarations — and real-life complications — of getting, and staying, married. It stretches across continents, generations, and plains of emotion. What has always set Nell Freudenberger apart is the sly, gimlet eye she turns on collisions of all kinds — sexual, cultural, familial. With The Newlyweds, she has found her perfect subject for that vision, and characters to match. She reveals Amina’s heart and mind, capturing both her new American reality and the home she cannot forget, with seamless authenticity, empathy, and grace. At once revelatory and affecting, The Newlyweds is a stunning achievement.
"Freudenberger's delicately observed second novel is another account of cross-cultural confusion in the tale of a Bangladeshi woman, 24-year-old Amina Mazid, who becomes the e-mail order bride of 34-year-old George Stillman, an electrical engineer in Rochester, N.Y. Arriving in snowy Rochester in 2005 is a culture shock for Amina, but within three years she has her green card, is married to George, and is taking college courses when not pulling espresso at Starbucks. Her marriage, though, has its problems. Sex is awkward, George loses his job, and Amina discovers something that makes her doubt his sincerity. She eventually returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents to the U.S., but a problem with her father's visa keeps Amina there and forces her back into the morass of her extended family's resentments and petty jealousies, all of which she'd hoped to escape in marriage. Add to her troubles an old suitor, Nasir, waiting not so patiently in the wings. Freudenberger (The Dissident) does an excellent job of portraying the plight of a young Muslim woman not totally comfortable in either of the worlds she inhabits. But Amina's passivity may frustrate many readers, and George is a complete cipher. In the end, Freudenberg's anatomy of a modern arranged marriage is somewhat too dependent on cultural clichÃ©s to entirely satisfy. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Freudenberger draws women's complex lives as brilliantly as Austen or Wharton or Woolf, and, with The Newlyweds, has given a performance of beauty and grace." Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Story of a Marriage
"A big, complicated portrait of marriage, culture, family, and love. Freudenberger never settles for an easy answer, and what she delivers is a story that feels absolutely true. Every minute I was away from this book I was longing to be back in the world she created." Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder
"Exceptional....Here is an honest depiction of life as most people actually live it: Americans and Asians, Christians and Muslims, liberals and conservatives. Freudenberger writes with a cultural fluency that is remarkable and in a prose that is clean, intelligent, and very witty." David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World
"Once in a while, you come across a novel with characters so rich and nuanced, and situations so pitch-perfect, that you forget you're reading fiction. The Newlyweds is that sort of novel. I was floored by it — captivated from beginning to end. And now that I'm done, I can't stop thinking about it." J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine
"Wise, timely, ripe with humor and complexity, The Newlyweds is one of the most believable love stories of our young century." Gary Shytengart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Limpid, precise prose, clear as glass, magnifies, slows, and allows us into the heart of this love story set in a globalized time. Freudenberger has rare humanity, and talent great enough to command not only a vast landscape of imbalance and misunderstanding, but also a tender sphere of tiny intimacy, hidden yearning. The Newlyweds is a marvelous book." Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss
From one of America's most dazzling talents ("Young writers as ambitious — and as good — as Nell Freudenberger give us reason for hope." The New York Times Book Review
) comes a cross-continental love story: a brilliantly observed, warmly engaging novel about the exhilarations — and complications — of getting, and staying, wed.
Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she leaves Bangladesh for Rochester, New York, and for George Stillman, the husband who met and wooed her online. It's a twenty-first-century romance that echoes ancient traditions — the arranged marriages of her home country. And though George falls for Amina because she is "straightforward" and doesn't "play games," each is hiding something from the other. Amina struggles to find her place in America — as a Muslim woman, an aspiring teacher, a wife with her own desires. But it is only when they put an ocean between them that Amina and George will discover whether they have a future — or if their secrets will tear them apart. Traveling from American suburbs to the cities of South Asia, The Newlyweds is a tour de force — a novel as rich with misunderstandings as it is with unlikely connections.
About the Author
Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; both books were New York Times Book Review Notables. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and one of the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40.” She lives in Brooklyn with her family.