Fourteen stories, about half previously published in such journals as The Atlantic Monthly and Mademoiselle, sensitively examine the potentially destructive fracture that—like some cultural San Andreas Fault—haunts relationships between those of differing backgrounds. Sethi, married herself to an Indian Sikh, brings to these tales of Anglo-Indian alliances a perceptive but always clear-eyed sympathy: East is East and West is West, but neither has the lock on cultural superiority. What really counts are those differences that cumulatively combine to threaten cross-cultural lovers and parents. The stories here also share a cast of characters related by blood and marriage. In the title piece, Sally, an American medical student, marries her lover Deshi (whom she met in the US), in a traditional red sari in a Sikh ceremony in India. But soon she's overwhelmed by the press of family, the obligations that an Indian marriage entails, and the feeling of being caught in a place where she doesn't belong. The newlyweds return to the US and pursue careers, but the entanglements follow. In ``Housewarming,'' Sally's parents-in-law, now living with the couple, insist on a religious blessing for the new home in New Jersey; and in ``The White Widow,'' Sally, now widowed and childless, decides to ignore tradition and live on her own instead of with her in-laws, whom she sends back to India. Other notable stories describe the desperate attempts of an Indian teenager to stay in the US (``America the Beautiful''); a bride's failure to adjust as her husband, a fellow Indian practicing psychiatry, thrives (``Doctor Doktor''); and an Indian family's reluctant decision to insist that their son in New York marry his blond girlfriend (``The White-Haired Girl''). A subtle take on a difficult subject, from a newcomer worthy to join that small, elect band who record the trials and occasional triumphs of love across the culture lines.
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