THE MANGO SEASON

Amulya Malladi, Author . Ballantine $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-345-45030-2

All the commonplaces of culture clash are on display in this second novel by Malladi (A Breath of Fresh Air), about an Indian woman who hides her engagement to an American man from her traditional Brahmin family. "I had escaped arranged marriage," begins Priya Rao, "by coming to the United States to do a master's in Computer Sciences at Texas A&M, by conveniently finding a job in Silicon Valley, and then by inventing several excuses to not go to India." At 27, having run out of excuses, she returns to her home city of Hyderabad and runs headlong into a dizzying array of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Tormenting Priya is a secret: Nick, her American fiancé. She is afraid to tell anyone about him, fearing she will be disowned, and even agrees to meet an Indian man her parents would like her to marry. Malladi succeeds in giving a vivid sensory impression of the south of India, its foods and climate and customs, but Priya's family falls neatly into stock types: the overbearing mother who wants Priya to marry within her caste; the hip younger brother who represents the next, Westernized generation of Indians; the catty aunt who constantly criticizes her niece. Awkward prose ("lethargy swirling around her like an irritating mosquito") is a distraction, and melodrama takes the place of nuanced plotting—a final twist is particularly egregious. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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