The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
By Farahad Zama
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399155581, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 11, 2009
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Alexander McCall Smith meets Jane Austen in this delightfully charming Indian novel about finding love.
What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!
With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and his careful assistant, Aruna, look on with vigilant eyes. There's the man who wants a tall son-in-law because his daughter is short; the divorced woman who ends up back with her ex-husband; a salesman who can't seem to sell himself; and a wealthy, young doctor for whom no match is ever perfect. But although his clients go away happy, little does Mr. Ali know that his esteemed Aruna hides a tragedy in her past-a misfortune that the bureau, as luck would have it, serendipitously undoes.
Bursting with the color and allure of India, and with a cast of endearing characters, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People has shades of Jane Austen and Alexander McCall Smith but with a resonance and originality entirely its own. Farahad's effortless style reveals a country still grappling with the politics of caste, religion, and civil unrest, all the while delivering a shamefully delightful read.
- Setting up a 'marriage bureau' is in some ways a very traditional undertaking, enforcing strict marriage customs. Mr. Ali upholds these traditions, but he also openly discusses his liberal views on religion and marriage. Discuss several instances when Mr. Ali acts traditionally, and when he acts more liberally, and how you think this affects his business.
"A charming novel, fascinating in its depiction of a rich and exotic culture, yet filled with characters as familiar as your next-door neighbors."
-Ann B. Ross, author of the Miss Julia novels
"Farahad Zama's thoroughly entertaining debut novel captivates and delights. In marrying a uniquely Indian tale of culture and tradition to a universal story of family bonds tested and love triumphant, Zama has arranged a perfect match."
-Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the Elm Creek Quilts novels