Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People -- Zama’s debut novel captivates the reader as an entertaining chronicle of a contemporary Indian matchmaking service and as insightful commentary on the lingering dictates of religion and class in modern India. Mr. and Mrs. Ali live in Vizag, on India’s eastern coast. Several years into his retirement, Mr. Ali grows bored, so he opens a marriage bureau, where the city’s well-to-do can come to find the perfect match for their offspring based on their unique requirements as to caste, religion, dowry amount, age, and height. The business flourishes, forcing Mr. Ali to hire an assistant, Aruna, a young woman whose family’s financial collapse forced her to give up her postgraduate studies and go to work. Aruna has a knack for making even the most difficult matches—failing only to find a young woman for a wealthy young doctor with especially picky parents. Zama sprinkles his lively narrative with morsels of everyday life and age-old traditions, from marriage and burial rituals to the making of mung-bean crepes—all of which enrich and enliven his simple and engaging plot.

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