The Indian community in and around Boston is explored in seven loosely linked stories.
Indian-born Reddi takes on the not-unfamiliar territory of culture clash, charting the conflict between traditional values and modern, Western mores. Her stories are occasionally comic, more often pensive, even melancholic, highlighting the contrast between those immigrants who have adjusted to a new life in America and those still struggling and out of place. In “Justice Shiva Ram Murthy,” two elderly friends respond differently to a minor fracas in a fast-food restaurant. In “Bangles,” another elderly protagonist—Arundhati, a widow—moves to this “new city, new country, new life” to live with her son, only to find that she must go against duty and custom herself in order to make life tolerable. In the title story, an unemployed professor of colonial history searches for work and independence from his more successful brother, only to find himself rescuing—in an act of neat symbolism—damaged migrating birds. In “The Validity of Love,” two young, Westernized women respond with shared dismissiveness on the subject of arranged marriages, then find their opinions diverging; while in “Devadasi,” another young woman, on a trip to Hyderabad, finds herself comparing and contrasting Indian and American male behavior, and her space within the differing cultures. Reddi’s voice is gentle and her eye watchful, and the dilemmas of her often-isolated characters are by no means solely those of the immigrant community.
A soft-spoken, sympathetic collection.