Someone Else's Garden

Dipika Rai, Harper Perennial, $13.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-200035-4
In Rai's first novel, a young rural Indian woman named Mamta is given in marriage to a man so vile that he sells her kidney to buy prostitutes and fund his gambling. When Mamta learns that he plans to sell her other kidney, killing her, she flees to her home village, where her indentured father and brother help her escape to a city in central India. Once there, she finds her way and sends money to her mother, who, realizing that Mamta has left her husband, disowns her. Her brother-in-law, Lokend, arrives in the city to run for office and is badly attacked by his rival's aide, prompting Mamta to care for him. They fall in love and start a new life, bringing them back to their village, families, and a more humane existence. Though beautifully written, the story of Mamta is overwhelmed by cruelty and brutality; details on Mamta's late reconciliation with her mother and the sanctuary that the two create for abused women are but cursorily addressed. Despite the depth of feeling and the final note of redemption, many readers will find Rai's debut relentlessly bleak. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Paperback - 382 pages - 978-0-00-735509-9
Paperback - 382 pages - 978-0-00-735511-2
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-207858-2
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