3 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, November 20, 2015
Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear.
Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.
Exclusive interview with the author:
1) Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
The media coverage of my book has been an exciting experience. I’ve been on the front page of The Advocate, USA Today, Curve Magazine, and The Animal, among others. Between coverage for the book and my work with the UN, I am contacted by a journalist at least a few times of month about topics I think have relevance to the modern world. It’s wonderful to know my opinions on these matters are valued.
2) This would make a great film. Any talks of turning your book into a movie? If your book were turned into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
Yes, I’ve had very informal talks with a few screenwriters on a movie adaptation for The Paths of Marriage. My author friends who are negotiating a movie deal warn me that it is an intensive and acrobatic process with the number of pieces that need to come together. I have consistently heard from a diverse audience that my book would make a great movie, however, so I am hopeful that is the horizon for The Paths of Marriage. I’ve been approached for a theater adaptation, and I am hoping to connect with Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta for the possible movie adaptation.
One of the reasons I’d love to see my book turned into a movie is because there are not a lot of roles for South Asian actors, especially in the States. I would thus guess a lot of the starring cast has yet to be major productions. Of course big names do come to mind; I could see Mindy Kaling playing the character of Pooja. I think Nandita Das would be excellent as the character of Lakshmi.
3) Your characters seem so alive and real…what’s your secret?
I get (some version) of this question a lot. I think I have the strong ability to take a few soundbytes and fill in the gaps to construct a story. A lot of the characters in The Paths of Marriage are very loosely based on someone I have met, be family or friend. In the case of the major characters, I was able to take minor anecdotes, attributes or traits and wind that up into a fictitious character. Like a good lie, fictional characters that seem real are based in some truth. The trick is know what to keep true and what to vary from reality.
4) What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of and why?
I really love the scene in which Laskhmi reveals to her granddaughter, Deepa, that she knows and accepts Deepa is gay. In a matter of four sentences, the three powerful stories of the main characters come together and reveal to the reader how racial, caste, LGBT, gender and socioeconomic discrimination are all rooted in bias, fear and ignorance.
5) Thinking back to the way beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
It’s really hard to sell books.
About the author:
Mala Kumar, the author of The Paths of Marriage, is an international development and ICT4D practitioner based out of New York City. She has held innovative jobs with institutions including the United Nations. Visit Mala online at PathsOfMarriage.com.
3 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, Nov 20, 2015
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