cover image The Matchmaker’s List

The Matchmaker’s List

Sonya Lalli. Berkley, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-49094-0

Lalli’s debut is a skillful exploration of how the younger generation in an immigrant Indian community in Toronto bristles at tradition while discovering comfort and strength in family and community. Raina, 29, works at a multinational bank and agrees to check out a list of eligible Indian men her grandmother has vetted for an arranged marriage. But the bachelors all fall short of Dev, the dashing, globe-trotting banker from Raina’s past whom she fell in love with, but who couldn’t commit. The pressure mounts as Raina’s best-friend Shaya, a pediatric resident, prepares for her own wedding—on Raina’s 30th birthday—to white Catholic pediatrician Julian. After a series of hilarious dating misfires, a desperate Raina lets her grandmother believe she’s a lesbian to stop the matchmaking pressure—a duplicity that isolates her from her grandmother, Shaya, and Asher, a white groomsman who recognizes Raina as a “lost soul.” Raina’s ultimate appreciation of her grandmother’s loyalty, the joy of her community and culture, and a man with whom she “could be the woman who didn’t lose herself to love” helps her claim a life of her own. Lalli’s sharp-eyed tale of cross-cultural dating, family heartbreak, the strictures of culture, and the exuberance of love is both universal and timeless. (Jan.)