• Picador
Reading Group Gold
Madras on Rainy Days - Samina AliSee larger image
See Hi-Res Jpeg image


email/print EmailPrint

Madras on Rainy Days



Awards: Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Finalist, First Fiction ; Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Nominee, Finalist - First Fiction

Book Buy
Ebook Ebook 
    
Share this book with friends through your favorite social networking site. Share:           Bookmark and Share
Add this title to your virtual bookshelves at any of these book community sites. Shelve:             
sign up to get updates about this author
add this book's widget
to your site or blog

About The Author

Samina Ali

Samina Ali was born in Hyderabad, India, and raised both in India and the US. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon. Madras On Rainy Days is her debut novel.

Awards

Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Finalist, First Fiction
Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Nominee, Finalist - First Fiction

Stay In Touch

Sign up to recieve information about new releases, author appearances, special offers, all related to you favorite authors and books.

Other Books You Might Like

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
GraceLand
A Novel

Picador
"A richly detailed, poignant, and utterly fascinating look into another culture and how it is cross-pollinated by our own. It brings to mind the work of Ha Jin...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Behind the Scenes at the Museum
A Novel

Picador
A deeply moving family story of happiness and heartbreak, Behind the Scenes at the Museum is bestselling author Kate Atkinson's award-winning literary...
cover Buy
Love in the Ruins
A Novel

Picador
Dr. Tom More has created a stethoscope of the human spirit. With it, he embarks on an unforgettable odyssey to cure mankind's spiritual flu. This novel...
cover Buy
The White Boy Shuffle
A Novel

Picador
Paul Beatty's hilarious and scathing debut novel is about Gunnar Kaufman, an awkward, black surfer bum who is moved by his mother from Santa Monica to urban...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Mimi Malloy, At Last!
A Novel

Picador
Meet Mimi Malloy: A daughter of the Great Depression, Mimi was born into an Irish-Catholic brood of seven, and she has done her best to raise six beautiful...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
My Heart Is an Idiot
Essays

Picador
Named a Best Book of the Year by Vanity Fair, Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, and NPR In My Heart Is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart is looking for love in...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Partitions
A Novel

Picador
"Unforgettable." --Boston Globe As India is rent into two nations with the creation of Pakistan, communal violence breaks out on both sides of the new border...
  
cover Pre-Order

More formats
eBook
The Tattooed Soldier
A Novel

Picador
Antonio Bernal is a Guatemalan refugee in Los Angeles haunted by memories of his wife and child, who were murdered at the hands of a man marked with yellow...
  
cover Buy
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath

Square Fish
Break out the bandages! Bad Kitty needs a bath. And she’s not getting in the tub without a fight.
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Thinking, Fast and Slow

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
Major New York Times bestsellerWinner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio
The Odyssey
The Fitzgerald Translation

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
The classic translation of The Odyssey, now in a Noonday paperback. Robert Fitzgerald's translation of Homer's Odyssey is the best and best-loved modern...

Reading Group Gold

Discussion Questions

1. MADRAS ON RAINY DAYS opens with a blind alim, a mystical healer, who Layla visits because her mother believes her to be possessed. Yet Layla confesses that these are visits she must make each time she returns to Hyderabad from the United States. So what is truly possessing Layla that her mother is trying to rid? And why is it so important to her mother to rid Layla of these influences?

2. Although the novel is set in 1989 and is heavily centered on Layla's personal journey, in what ways does the story feel contemporary? What themes from the book exist today, in our world, that make the story compelling? It has been said that Islam is the main character of this novel. In what ways is this true?

3. The women in the novel are heavily confined to the home and to their limited fate: from the father's house to the husband's house. They have no personal identity other than being someone's wife, daughter, and/or mother. How is the religion of Islam being used to keep women oppressed? And how are both the male and female characters betraying women's right to freedom? Think of Layla's father and his co-wives, of Ibrahim after Layla tells him about his son and asks to leave the home, and also think of Layla's own mother and aunts. In what ways does Layla identify with her own nanny, Nafiza?

4. Although the novel is suggesting that women must occupy certain roles in this culture, Sameer also laments how he has had to become someone other than he truly is. On page 195, he tells Layla that he cannot be himself in India. What does he mean by this statement? What forces are keeping him, even as a man, from expressing himself in Hyderabad? And when Layla eventually exposes him to their families, what is the reaction of Abu Uncle, of Ibrahim, of Zeba, of the Muslim community?

5. Nate is an important character in the novel, although we see him only through the letters he sends to Layla. In one of them, he tells her that he loves her, yet Layla doesn't return to him nor did she, at the beginning, remain in the United States with him. Why would Layla, who has also grown up in America, return to India to get into an arranged marriage? What forces compel her to do so? What then

keeps her in her marriage with Sameer even after she learns that Nate loves her? Does giving her virginity to Nate necessarily mean she loves him? And is she really choosing Sameer over Nate or is she choosing something else, something more? Does she even have a choice?

6. Henna is Layla's best friend, confidante, and cousin. Layla says that they were both girls who grew up to be women who knew they would be sold to men in marriage and were looking forward to it. What is the importance of Henna to the overall theme of women's fate? Her sudden death is a surprise at the end, but how does this event help to change Layla and Sameer's relationship and why? Could this change have come about without this death? How does it influence Layla to make the decisions she finally does?

7. There is Muslim-Hindu violence in the book and Layla says that it is politics more than religion that causes such strife. In what ways is politics currently creating violence in the world, in the name of religion? Look closely at the words world leaders use in trying to legitimize their fight.

8. Layla begins the novel in a place of possession: she is controlled by cultural, familial, religious forces. As she journeys through the novel, she begins to distinguish between Islam, as a religion, and Islam as it is practiced in culture. Her learning about her religion helps her, by the end, to become self-possessed. No matter what religion or culture, people are controlled by familial and societal pressures. Think of ways in which you have sacrificed your personal freedom in face of these outside pressures.

9. On page 228, Layla says, "Love, why did we all confuse that emotion for what this really was, a desperate loneliness, a greed for human touch." In what ways is love denied in this novel? In what ways is it expressed? How do the characters put themselves at risk for such an expression, and what must they stand up against to love others? How does breaking love boundaries break the other silent boundaries imposed by religion and culture and family?

10. At the very end of the novel, Layla finally finds her freedom and says, "My body hidden and safe under the chador, belonging only to me." In what different ways did Layla have to fight for control of her body? The Western world has come to view the Muslim veil as an oppressive device. Yet, here, the chador provides Layla the freedom she has long awaited. With or without the veil, in what ways do women everywhere struggle for this very control of their bodies?

You May Also Be Interested In

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Friendship
A Novel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A novel about two friends learning the difference between getting older and growing up Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years; now, at...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Carsick
John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache,...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Unwinding
An Inner History of the New America

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
The 2013 National Book Award Winner A New York Times Bestseller American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single...
  Bonus