Monday, June 29, 2009

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama is a novel about a marriage broker in India, about his own family, and about the people around him including his unmarried (and not rich enough for his services) assistant, the housekeeper who comes to help his wife every day, and, of course, about the people who come to him for help in finding the perfect mate. Added to this mix are the people who come and go, who are seeking marriage for themselves, a son, a daughter, or other family relative. In the end, this is a beach book, a novel meant to be read lightly. Throughout the telling of the story, I never felt immersed in the events of the story. Rather, I felt Zama was telling me about Indian life, about how marriages are arranged in a culture still struggling against its caste system roots, and about a small group of people whose lives become intertwined. But telling a story and having a reader lose themselves in the characters, the setting, and the plot are not the same thing and because I never got so caught up in the story that I couldn’t put the book down, I can’t say that I recommend it. I didn’t dislike it enough to say much against it. I think that Zama was very interested in sharing his culture with the reader but never shared it in an intimate or even passionate way. At times, he even becomes a bit pedantic as he speaks/lectures to the reader through his characters. According to the back cover, the author wrote this novel while commuting to and from work and while sitting in front of the television. Perhaps he should turn the television off.

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