“Still living at home despite a good career and financial independence, beautiful and sophisticated Rasika has always been the dutiful daughter. With her twenty-sixth birthday fast approaching, she agrees to an arranged marriage, all while trying to hide from her family her occasional dalliances with other men.
Abhay is everything an Indian-American son shouldn’t be. Having spent his postcollege years living in a commune, he now hops from one dead-end job to another, brooding over what he really wants to do with his life.
Old family friends, Rasika and Abhay seem to have nothing in common, yet when the two reconnect by chance, sparks immediately fly. Abhay loves Rasika, but he knows her family would never approve. Rasika reluctantly accepts she has feelings for Abhay, but can she turn her back on the family rules she has always tried so hard to live by? The search to find answers takes Abhay and Rasika out of their native Ohio to Oregon and India, where they find that what they have together might just be something worth fighting for.”
Indian fiction is one of my favorite genres. Readers of Stiletto Storytime usually catch on to this addiction pretty quickly as my love of books inspired by or relating to India is displayed on a regular basis. I’m always searching for the next read and it’s naturally become harder and harder over the years to feed my hunger as I have already devoured most of what’s available. It’s no wonder I was so excited to dive into And Laughter Fell from the Sky.
Within it’s pages readers are introduced to two young Indian-American characters trying to navigate the difficult waters of marriage in modern day America while still staying true to the beliefs and traditions of their families and their mother country. No two individuals could be more different than Rasika and Abhay but in many ways they are still united in this cultural pressure to appease their families with their major life choices. Although we learn quickly that they handle and view this responsibility very differently as shown by the way in which they live their lives.
What I found most interesting was the illusion that either character was really embracing a typical modern American lifestyle. Rasika, to me represented a character of extremes in many ways. While on one hand she is a successful banker, she also lives at home with her parents letting them monitor her every move as if she were a child and yet she has this side of her life where she makes rash decisions when it comes to men often leading to promiscuous behavior but sustaining no real relationships of any kind. Often coming across vain, materialistic and selfish- at times it was hard to even like Rasika much less root for her and her view of the world was very difficult to relate to. She almost used her culture’s strictness and traditional practices as a crutch to get what she wanted and what she haw herself as deserving without having to make those tough decisions or work things out for herself.
Abhay on the other hand seems to abhor many of the characteristics of modern society, he is always actively searching for a more simplistic way of life such as the one he sought out within the commune. While he seems unfazed by the demands made by his family in relation to status and career, we still find him limited by his culture when it comes to marriage because of his love for Rasika and how important this approval is for her. Abhay to me represented a very free individual making his own choices but that quickly changed once his feelings for Rasika developed. I often questioned what this man who sought natural beauty and believed so strongly in truth and simplicity saw in Rasika?
The whole work created a very intriguing paradox of this desire for the “American dream” and it’s financial stability and status while also still so strongly believing in the merit of such an outdated practice such as arranged marriage. The very characters themselves were a kind of off-setting paradox as well. Such extremes coming together in so many ways, it was very intriguing to say the least.
The characters of Rasika and Abhay were very interesting to me and only proved more so…the more I thought them though. I still question them and the novel. It still has me thinking. The novel kept me thinking throughout and on my toes while also questioning even after the last page was read. The work is also said to be inspired by Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth and I look forward to a re-read of that classic in the near future to compare and try to further my understanding of this work.
Sound interesting? You can follow the official TLC Book Tour here. And make sure to tune in to Book Club Girl On Air on July 18th at 7pm EST to hear author Jyotsna Sreenivasan discuss And Laughter Fell from the Sky. You can also connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter.