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Mother India
Cover of Mother India
Mother India
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Literary, lyrical, and cuttingly satiric, Mother India is a brilliantly original novel about Jews who go to India to find transformation and eternal release from the sufferings of life. Narrated in luminous prose by Meena, a Jewish American lesbian who has claimed India as her home, the novel is vividly populated by the darkly comic universe of three generations of women along with other family members, as well as by the Indians whose world they seek to penetrate. There is Meena's religiously observant mother, Ma, whose desire to remove herself from the wheel of life plays out in a Faulknerian funeral procession and cremation on the banks of the holy river Ganges; Meena's daughter, Maya, a misunderstood child coming of age in an emotionally treacherous household; her ex-wife, Geeta, a privileged and hedonistic Indian woman who enters their world with devastating consequences; Meena's twin brother, Shmelke, a charismatic rabbi turned guru and international fugitive; and the Indian servant, Manika, whose loyalty to the family both sustains and shackles them.
ldentifying with the humanity of its characters, the reader is drawn into a vast, tragicomic, and fascinating epic, Homeric in scope, drama, discovery, and surprise. Universal yet intimate, brutal yet tender, satiric yet sympathetic, Mother India evokes reactions—intellectual, emotional, visceral—that are complex, even contradictory, containing the might and bite that our current cultural hubris and self-involvement deserve. In Mother India, Reich offers us her most poignant and astonishing novel to date.

Literary, lyrical, and cuttingly satiric, Mother India is a brilliantly original novel about Jews who go to India to find transformation and eternal release from the sufferings of life. Narrated in luminous prose by Meena, a Jewish American lesbian who has claimed India as her home, the novel is vividly populated by the darkly comic universe of three generations of women along with other family members, as well as by the Indians whose world they seek to penetrate. There is Meena's religiously observant mother, Ma, whose desire to remove herself from the wheel of life plays out in a Faulknerian funeral procession and cremation on the banks of the holy river Ganges; Meena's daughter, Maya, a misunderstood child coming of age in an emotionally treacherous household; her ex-wife, Geeta, a privileged and hedonistic Indian woman who enters their world with devastating consequences; Meena's twin brother, Shmelke, a charismatic rabbi turned guru and international fugitive; and the Indian servant, Manika, whose loyalty to the family both sustains and shackles them.
ldentifying with the humanity of its characters, the reader is drawn into a vast, tragicomic, and fascinating epic, Homeric in scope, drama, discovery, and surprise. Universal yet intimate, brutal yet tender, satiric yet sympathetic, Mother India evokes reactions—intellectual, emotional, visceral—that are complex, even contradictory, containing the might and bite that our current cultural hubris and self-involvement deserve. In Mother India, Reich offers us her most poignant and astonishing novel to date.

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    Starred review from September 15, 2018
    In her latest tragicomic satire of spiritual mayhem and cultural collisions, Reich (One Hundred Philistine Foreskins?, 2013)?a literary whirlwind whose sentences, by turn, flash and fork like lightning or sinuously coil and strike with cobra power?follows the unforeseeable fate of a Jewish family who leaves Brooklyn for India. Reich's besieged narrator, Meena, first describes how her cancer-stricken mother joins her in Mumbai, where Meena is struggling after the breakup of her marriage to wealthy and glamorous Geeta, who had been a second mother to Meena's daughter, Maya. As Meena's mother becomes an unlikely figure of reverence, her strangely susceptible daughter keeps falling physically and psychically, drawn into an Orthodox Jewish enclave after a terrorist attack, coming under the spell of the divine mother Amma, and encountering a dashing Muslim extremist. Then there's the riotous life of Meena's twin brother, a fugitive holy man. Within each surging, antic, visceral scene, rendered with ferocious specificity, Reich, on the same frequency as Cynthia Ozick, maintains the focus of a sharpshooter, targeting the power of the guru, the corruption of faith, the hubris of do-gooders, epic poverty, sexual violence, and life's endless cycle of sorrows. Reich's saga of family, loss, and the search for enlightenment is unrelenting in its invention, jolting clarity, dark absurdity, and deep compassion.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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Mother India
Mother India
Tova Reich
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