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.
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Farahad Zama was born in Visakhapatnam (Vizag) on the eastern coast of India in 1966. After an (arranged) marriage, his career took him to London on a six-month business trip. His day job is working at an investment bank.From Publishers Weekly:
A thriving arranged-marriage bureau in contemporary India resides at the heart of Zama's charming debut. The customers who visit Mr. Ali's bureau—a project he began in retirement to pass the time—are mostly pragmatists: they look for mates based on height, complexion, caste, economic status and religion. As business picks up, Mr. Ali, a Muslim, takes on a young assistant, Aruna, a poor Hindu girl, who helps him formulate happy unions. While the bureau prospers, Mr. Ali and his wife contend with their headstrong son, a human rights advocate who worries them constantly, and Aruna faces her dismal home life and a handsome young client who may want more from her than lists of potential matches. Zama's strength is in showing the love that makes the matchmaking system possible, looking at the reciprocity, trust and devotion that underlie marriage. Though the dialogue can tend toward the wooden and some problems work out too tidily, Zama's delightful world of mid-morning tea breaks, afternoon siestas, picnics in mango groves and meddlesome aunties is a pleasant place to hang out. (June)
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