Bodies in Motion

Mary Anne Mohanraj, Author . HarperCollins $22.95 (278p) ISBN 978-0-06-078118-7

Mohanraj's promising but uneven debut collection chronicles the lives of two linked Sri Lankan families over the course of 50 years. From politically ravaged Sri Lanka to quiet suburban America, characters buck against the tradition of arranged marriage, desiring more than their assigned societal roles. In "Oceans Bright and Wide," a couple in 1939 Colombo, Sri Lanka, reluctantly send their daughter to Oxford University to study physics rather than immediately marrying her off. An embittered father lamenting his Americanized children surprises his youngest daughter with an arranged engagement on her seventeenth birthday in "A Gentle Man." In "Tightness in the Chest," a young American–Sri Lankan woman settles down with a Tamil husband, but resists her role as wife and future mother, while he yearns for her affection. Mohanraj's writing is vibrant, but she occasionally retreads familiar territory of the immigrant experience (i.e., the struggle of losing one's language and the pressure to achieve in America). Also, the gems of the collection are offset by undeveloped, rushed stories— in "Seven Cups of Water," a lesbian affair occurs abruptly and without context. Still, Mohanraj evokes a moving portrait of families searching for love and a place to call home. Agent, Bob Mecoy. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/06/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-06-078119-4
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