I’m sure there’s another copy of my review of this book lurking somewhere, but I simply can’t seem to find it, so here I go again.
Mira Kamdar, the author, was born to a Gujarathi Jain father and all American (blue eyes, blond hair) mother whose grandparents emigrated to the US from Sweden (I think). So, as with most authors who’ve not really grown up in India, she paints a general picture of India and Indians only as someone who’s doesn’t “get it” can. Her style reminded me of Arundhati Roy, whose Booker prize winning novel “The God of Small Things” is something I thought was totally awful. Note to self, avoid Booker prize winning novels. Okay, that’s a bit extreme – just avoid Arundhati Roy’s writings.
The book starts out as the title suggests as being about her maternal grandmother, but soon derails into a mishmash of stories about a few relevant and many irrelevant characters. Details to the point of distraction about personalities and places (Kathiawar, Burma and Bombay) are at a minimum tangential to the subject at hand and often do not involve Motiba at all.
I suspect the author’s started out trying to understand for herself and to describe Motiba’s world to us, but found herself inadequate to the task. So, she settled for an extended family history which includes some rather inappropriate whining about her father towards the end. I can understand and perhaps even sympathize with the angst that the author went through with her “family not being like others” and not fitting in with the rest of the folks, but I’m not sure that warrants the bitterness on display towards her father in a public forum.
Verdict: Give it a miss. There are better reads out there.