South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) and South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) present a reading by Samina Ali, author of Madras On Rainy Days at Maharaja Restaurant, 230 East 44th Street, between 2nd & 3rd Avenues on Thursday, February 12, 2004.
Reception at 6.30 pm, following by reading and q&a 7.00-8.30 p.m. $5 for SAJA and SAWCC members, $7 for non-members. Working journalists interested in interviewing Samina can contact her publicist Sarita Varma.
Madras On Rainy Days is a striking novel from a new voice in fiction – the first Muslim Indian woman to be published in the U.S. A. – Samina Ali. Set against the backdrop of the ancient city of Hyderabad and mounting Hindu-Muslim tensions, the novel lyrically evokes the complexities of life behind the chador.
Ali’s own experience as woman raised in both the U.S. and in India who must balance the complicated mix of western freedom with Muslim tradition closely mirrors that of her protagonist, Layla. Like her main character, Ali reluctantly agreed to an arranged marriage only to find her mate had comprised something as well – his sexual freedom. In Madras On Rainy Days, she deftly explores the taboo of homosexuality within the Indian Muslim community, as well as the conflicts over freedom of thought and expression that many modern Muslims face.
Samina Ali has written a wonderful, wrenching family story. While it begins in the traditional moral dilemma of whether to submit to an arranged marriage, the story progresses in ways that challenge every stereotype and expectation we might put upon it. The novel deepens with each revelation as her young narrator discovers the truth about the home she left behind and learns the true character of the people who supposedly love her. In the end, she is left with the messy beauty of a real life, one that can’t be categorized or controlled, only embraced.
Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?
With her debut novel, Madras On Rainy Days, Samina Ali makes a bold entrance on the scene of American immigrant literature. Ali is a compelling storyteller. In language that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, she explores both the upside and the downside of being a first generation Muslim Indo-American woman, trapped between the demands of competing cultural heritages. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the multicultural fabric of contemporary America.
Bharati Mukherjee, author of Desirable Daughters
In this beautifully written and fully realized first novel by Samina Ali, a Muslim Hyderabadi wedding serves to illuminate the gulf between the Muslim world and America while also bridging that gulf with the heartbreaking story of how one young Muslim girl becomes a woman. Madras On Rainy Days covers the full spectrum of human conflicts and joys: betrayal, cruelty, despair, and yes–the possibility of redemption and
About the Author
Samina Ali was born in Hyderabad and was raised there and in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. She lives in San Francisco with her son.