OVERRIDE

Madras on Rainy Days

A Novel

Samina Ali

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Layla is torn among clashing identities--dutiful Muslim daughter and free, independent American woman. When she is nineteen, her parents inform Layla that a marriage has been arranged for her to an Indian man she doesn't know. A stunned Layla submits reluctantly but not before she commits a dangerous, final act of defiance. In the heat and noise of Hyderabad, as her wedding looms, her behavior becomes more and more erratic. Her mother, fearing demonic possession, takes Layla to a Muslim faith-healer, an alim, hoping to exorcise all traces of rebellion. To Layla's surprise, the ancient and elaborate wedding rituals, her groom's physical beauty, and the unexpectedly warm welcome of her new family fill her with a sense of belonging she has never known before. But her honeymoon in Madras soon reveals the full horror of the devil's bargain she has struck.

Set against the backdrop of the ancient walled city of Hyderabad and mounting Hindu-Muslim tensions, Madras on Rainy Days lyrically evokes the complexities of life behind the chador. A gorgeously written novel by an original new voice in international fiction.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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  Madras on Rainy Days
PROLOGUE: ONE YEAR AGOMung’niSUFFERING QUIETLY IN a room not my own. The door locked. The wooden shutters pulled closed and bolted. No breeze out there, nothing to rustle the leaves of the mango or coconut trees. Only stillness. Early morning on a hot May day, the middle of the summer season in Hyderabad. It must be 104 outside. In here, it feels much hotter.One of the wooden shutters is splintered and warped along the edge, allowing a single beam of sunlight to enter the room. I am lying at the center of my aunt’s bed, the one she brought with her in
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REVIEWS

Praise for Madras on Rainy Days

"With her debut novel, Madras on Rainy Days, Samina Ali makes a bold entrance on the scene of American immigrant literature. Ali is a compelling storyteller. In language that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, she explores both the upside and the downside of being a first generation Muslim Indo-American woman, trapped between the demands of competing cultural heritages. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the multicultural fabric of contemporary America" --Bharati Mukherjee, author of Desirable Daughters: A Novel

"Samina Ali has created, in her first novel, a compelling story, filled with psychological insight and a deep understanding of the conflicts that plague all of us who inhabit two worlds at the same time." --Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Mistress of Spices and The Vine of Desire

"Samina Ali has written a wonderful, wrenching family story. While it begins in the traditional moral dilemma of whether to submit to an arranged marriage, the story progresses in ways that challenge every stereotype and expectation we might put upon it. The novel deepens with each revelation as her young narrator discovers the truth about the home she left behind and learns the true character of the people who supposedly love her. In the end, she is left with the messy beauty of a real life, one that can't be categorized or controlled, only embraced."--Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?

"In this beautifully written and fully realized first novel by Samina Ali, a Muslim Hyderabadi wedding serves to illuminate the gulf between the Muslim world and America while also bridging that gulf with the heartbreaking story of how one young Muslim girl becomes a woman. Madras on Rainy Days covers the full spectrum of human conflicts and joys: betrayal, cruelty, despair, and yes--the possibility of redemption and hope."--ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Reviews from Goodreads

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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.
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Madras on Rainy Days

A Novel

Samina Ali

Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Nominee, Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Finalist
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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