• 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
Blame
A Novel

Picador
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE CHICAGO TRIBUNE FAVORITE FICTION OF THE YEAR O, THE OPRAH...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
A Wall in Palestine

Picador
An incisive report on the West Bank Barrier—one of the most significant developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in our lifetime
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Catfish and Mandala
A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

Picador
Winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize A New York Times Notable Book of the Year Winner of the Whiting Writers' Award A Seattle Post-Intelligencer...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Casting with a Fragile Thread
A Story of Sisters and Africa

Picador
One Sunday morning in her suburban home in Connecticut, Wendy Kann received a phone call: her youngest sister, Lauren, had been killed on a lonely road in...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Be My Knife
A Novel

Picador
When the awkward, neurotic and childlike Yair, a seller of rare books, sees a beautiful woman across the room at a class reunion he feels compelled to write to...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Vacant Possession

Picador
A dark and uproarious tale of revenge. Ten years have passed since Muriel Axon did her ma in, ten years of living in a mental asylum. But Muriel has not...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
West of Kabul, East of New York
An Afghan American Story

Picador
The day after the World Trade Center was destroyed, Tamim Ansary sent an anguished e-mail to twenty friends, discussing the attack from his perspective as an...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Inglorious
A Novel

Picador
When Rosa Lane, a promising young journalist, impulsively hits the send button on an email to her boss saying "I quit," so begins her pursuit of enlightenment...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Talk Like TED
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds

St. Martin's Press
Ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. The ability...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Way of Kings

Tor Fantasy
A new epic fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® Series
cover Buy
I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love

Feiwel & Friends
There are things about you quite unlike any other. Things always known by your father or mother. So if you decide to be different one day, no worries… I’d...

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
Audio eBook
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall
A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
A brand new edition of the bestselling guide to raising teenagers When Anthony E. Wolf's witty and compassionate guide to raising adolescents was first...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Train Dreams
A Novella

Picador
A New York Times Notable Book An Esquire Best Book of 2011 A New Yorker Favorite Book of 2011 A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2011 Denis Johnson’s...
  Bonus
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Encounters at the Heart of the World
A History of the Mandan People

Hill and Wang
A book that radically changes our understanding of North America before and after the arrival of Europeans Encounters at the Heart of the World concerns the...