Good Booklist…

Good Booklist review! Yay! V. mild spoilers. Also, here's the new cover -- I'm not sure y'all saw it, since Bob just linked it in the comments to an earlier entry.

Mohanraj, born in Sri Lanka and educated in the U.S., portrays two Sri Lankan families woven together for several generations by bonds of friendship, marriage, and unsanctioned love affairs. Some emigrate to America or England to complete their education at Oxford, Harvard, or the University of Chicago, the setting of several stories. A few marry whites, some marry other Sri Lankan immigrants, and some return home for traditional arranged marriages, returning to the U.S. to raise their families. Mohanraj perceptively limns her characters with a delicate brush, bringing them slowly to life until the reader knows them well. The brilliant Shanthi, who has six girls in rapid succession and ends up teaching high-school physics in Chicago; her youngest daughter, Lakshmi, whose diary pulls the reader into her whirlpool of abuse and loneliness; Vivek, who thinks he married a traditional woman but learns she can't cook and doesn't want children -- all come alive in these thoughtful stories of the clash of tradition and modernity, and the search for love in all its various guises.

-- Booklist

According to my agent and publicist, this is a pretty important trade review, and should be up on Amazon soon. So I'm pleased and relieved.

14 thoughts on “Good Booklist…”

  1. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Rani, I have mixed feelings. I still love my old cover, though I admit that they were right to note that it didn’t have any overt connection to the material inside the book. I just thought it was so beautiful and classy.

    I think the new cover is beautifully designed and quite striking; I love the colors of it. Given the content of the book, the sexual overtones are reasonably appropriate. Many of my stories play out on the field of a woman’s body, in one way or another. I wouldn’t want something like this on the cover of most S. Asian women’s books, but for mine, it works okay.

    I do wish that they had left her her head, but both my publisher and my agent seem convinced that it’s better not to show faces on book covers, because readers don’t identify with the characters as much if there’s a face already attached. I don’t think that’s true for me, personally — I’m more drawn to covers with faces on them, especially if the faces carry an interesting expression. But maybe they’re right for most readers — I just don’t know. It seems to be a widely-held belief in the publishing world, at any rate.

  2. Hey, that’s a great Booklist review. I especially like the last sentence — whoa, that’s a long sentence. Okay, the last bit of the last sentence, which I think does an elegant job of summing up the book in a way that sounds enticing and universal. Congratulations on being well-booklisted!

  3. I agree that the last cover looked classy and elegant, but this cover looks more like something I’d want to read. I think it ROCKS. (And I agree that the head should be left off — it’s far more mysterious and enticing this way for me.) Congrats on the great review!

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    That’s reassuring to hear, Jenn. I think that was one of their concerns too, that the previous cover may have been a bit overly literary and thereby off-putting to a lot of readers. I know when Kevin’s sister read the galleys, she was surprised to find the book so readable. I don’t know if the surprise was because of the old cover, or because of her impression of me… 🙂

  5. I liked the old cover too, but the new cover is something I’d pick up in a bookstore and take a closer look at. It’s evocative and mysterious, and the colors are striking. I’m not sure where I fall on the head/no head thing, because I like artwork that has either technique.

  6. I find myself wishing that there was another body, both to make the a visual plural to match the verbal one and to cut the woman’s-torso-on-display element down a bit. For the people I plan on giving the book to, the latter is going to be a bit of an obstacle.

    In my mind, I see another headless torso (male or female) behind the woman, tilting less than her in the opposite direction and turned with one shoulder closer to the camera than the other. But that’s just my fiddly nature speaking — it’s a beautiful cover and a wonderful review! Hooray!

  7. The colors are beautiful, it’s striking and lovely. I, too, wish they’d left her head on, but I have the problem with *every* book that cuts a woman off at her neck. If you need mystery, can’t you have her turn her head, have her hair fall across her face? Do they do this to men on covers too and I just don’t notice as much?

    ANYway, I doubt many readers will notice and goodness knows the cut-off head would never keep me from picking up such a gorgeous, intriguing-looking book. HUGE congrats on the great review, MA! I look forward to reading it when it comes out!

  8. Gorgeous cover! This one really makes me want to pick it up–it looks like so much fun.

    (Also, I have to admit that as a UK resident, I really prefer this cover for purely circumstantial reasons–the earlier cover was pretty much identical to the cover used for Deepak Chopra’s latest book in the UK, which was a negative association for me.)

  9. I confess, the cover made me wince a bit. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, the sexiness is appropriate. But I still found myself thinking, where’s the top half of her outfit? When you wear a sari, isn’t there a little short blouse that goes on under it? And does the cover of every book by a South Indian or South Asian woman author always have to feature a curvaceous brown-skinned woman draped in sari fabric in a way that saris aren’t actually worn? There’s an exoticism about it that feels way too familiar. I don’t really know what the solution is, because I wouldn’t lose the cultural specificity of it or the sexiness of it, and I don’t know how you present both those things so that they don’t feel exoticized. But I bet that someone really clever could come up with something. And I feel a kinship with Mary Anne over this conflicted business of covers on books by people of colour, and hey, I’m a science fiction reader; I’m used to buying books despite covers that make me give my head a shake.

  10. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    You know what’s funny, though? I thought that too, that “every book by a South Indian or South Asian woman author always has to feature a curvaceous brown-skinned woman draped in sari fabric in a way that saris aren’t actually worn” — or something like that. But when we were trying to decide on the cover, we looked at a lot of S. Asian fiction books — and we couldn’t find any covers like that! The closest we came were Babyji and The Twentieth Wife, which aren’t that close, and that’s really it. All the other covers seemed to have flowers or cities or fruit or some classic Indian temple image on them…

    Very weird. I would have sworn that it was a well-worn and tired trope, but I don’t know where I got that idea. Somewhere other than book covers, I guess.

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