>> Monday, February 28, 2011
And finally I have finished reading “Love Marriage” by V.V. Ganeshananthan and this will be my first read for 2011 South Asian Reading Challenge for which I signed up last Dec. This book took me unexpectedly long to complete. Blame it on my ill health these days, other engagements as well as the fact that it is not as easy read as I had thought it to be. Maybe the perception of title which somehow made me think that it’s going to be a simple and quick read which it definitely is not. In fact the book needed a lot more concentration and undivided attention as it revolved around many characters and zoomed in different time spans. To simply put, if “Persepolis” was all about childhood of Satrapi in Iran during the turbulent years of Iranian Revolution, “Love Marriage” was all about growing years of Yalini in US during turbulent years in Sri Lanka.
Yalini is an American-born daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants Murali and Vani, she is always confused about her identity which splits between her modern lifestyle of America and her traditional Tamil ancestry from Sri Lanka. Yalini is born in July 1983, a very dark month for Sri Lankan Tamils as it was in this phase when many Tamils were killed in riots and those who survived, scattered across the globe to save their existence. Her parents had left Sri Lanka earlier considering the difficult and violent times ahead but Yalini’s maternal uncle Kumaran decided to join the group of rebels and became a Tamil Tiger. He had this motive to fight for the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, though at a later stage of life he had to leave due to his incurable Cancer. Yalini’s life takes a dramatic turn when she meets her uncle Kumaran who despite his grievances against Murali & Vani’s love marriage decides to spend last few days of his life with his loving sister Vani. Yalini goes through a difficult emotional struggle trying to understand her uncle’s perspective, her family background, her cousin Janani, her traditions and many other such interesting pieces which finally get woven into a very strong and poignant story.
As I always do with my reviews, I’m not revealing the complete plot of the book as it’s for the readers to read and savor those details. “Love Marriage” is touching, well written and insightful, though I must admit that it gets confusing also at certain places. With 293 pages divided between so many characters, their individual stories and the frequent oscillation between past & present leave you perplexed at times. There have been moments when I had to go back to the first page to understand the family hierarchy in order to relate to that character properly.
I think, it’s definitely a good read but do not confuse it for a romantic book due to its title, the book is more of realities of life, social and political issues facing Tamils in Sri Lanka than a typical fable of love and marriages.
About the Author: “Love Marriage” is a debut novel of V.V. Ganeshananthan. She is a fiction writer and journalist, is a graduate of Harvard College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the M.A. program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Bollinger Fellow specializing in arts and culture journalism. You can read more about the author here.
Other Details of the Book:
Published in: April 2008
Price: Rs. 350, though I bought it for Rs. 291 from Flipkart.