"A lyrical debut" (Asian Week) exploring the dilemma confronting Layla, a second generation Indian-American Muslim. As a dutiful Muslim daughter and an independent young American, Layla is torn between clashing identities. Reluctantly agreeing to her parents' wish for her to leave America and submit to an arranged marriage, Layla enters into the closed world of tradition and ritual as the wedding preparations get underway in Hyderabad. Set against a background of rising Hindu-Muslim violence, and taboo questions of sexuality, Samina Ali presents the complexities of life behind the chador, and the story of a marriage where no one is what they seem. In the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, Madras on Rainy Days introduces an "abundantly talented new voice."
"Her story is intriguing not for its surprises...but because she is one of a rare breed of writers who take us into the closed world behind a Muslim woman's veil."Mitali Saran, Far Eastern Economic Review
"Layla and Sameer tussle out not just their personal and sexual struggles, but the larger questions of where and how they can belong to both the Unites States and India. The novel has a fierce and shimmering intensity....Madras on Rainy Days has given us something new."Star Tribune
"This book goes to a place where few, if any, of its predecessors have gone before....A deeply feminist novel with richly drawn and complicated characters."Ms. Magazine
Samina Ali was born in Hyderabad, India, and raised both in India and the US. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon. Madras On Rainy Days is her debut novel.
A young woman, torn between the certainties of life in India and the potentially liberating challenges of America, undergoes an arranged Islamic marriage-with disastrous results. As in so many similar stories, the writer is most effective in describing local customs, ceremonies, locations (the city of Hyderabad), and cultures-here, the workings of an Islamic society in a majority Hindu country. But first-timer Ali is less successful in telling a compelling tale or creating credible characters. Her protagonist, 19-year-old Layla, has since childhood spent half of each year in the US with her mother and father, a doctor, and half the year in India. She appreciates the freedoms and opportunities the US offers, but also enjoys the comforting rituals and rules of India. As a result, both to please her mother and to secure a home for herself, she agrees to marry Sameer, a college graduate. Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit.