by Robbie Clipper Sethi
219 pages, Hardcover
$24.95 (US Dollars)
Author Bios: Sethi
One of the best multicultural sagas to come along in a
-- Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002
Second-novelist Sethi (The Bride Wore Red , 1996) assembles the
portrait of an Indian family from several generations and as many
continents as they attempt to maintain some semblance of their identity.
Gulab and Harbachan Gill were Punjabi Sikhs who had the bad luck to
live directly astride what became the border between India and Pakistan in
1947. In order to escape the bloody civil war that followed, they pulled up
stakes and moved to New Delhi, where Harbachan worked for the Indian
Government as an engineer while Gulab organized a new home for the family.
As their four children grew up, each of them moved abroad. Their son Hari
move to New York and took a job with a pharmaceutical company,
while their three daughters (Jeety, Harwinder, and Baby)
settled in the Middle East, Africa, and England. Much of the tale is
narrated by Gulab ("Biji") Gill, who looks on the careers and the families
of her children and grandchildren with the finicky disdain of an old woman who
has never quite got used to the new circumstances of her life.
Her daughter, Harwinder, for example, married a Kenyan businessman of whom Biji
disapproved--and Harwinder's daughter Kunti years later went a step further
by moving to America and giving birth to the illegitimate son of an unemployed
Her son Hari gave up his promising job with the Ortho Corporation and moved
to California--to open a muffler shop! Hari's daughter Rosa offers a different
perspective in her chapters. A high-school student born in the US, Rosa sees
the world with a teenager's impatience for the traditions imposed by geography,
and (with an Indian father and a German mother) she can't be contained within
any one culture--except the American, which turns out to be a mix of everything.
A genial account of how people's lives cross and combine to
create cultures: one of the best multicultural sagas to come along in a
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