A striking new literary voice tells the story of a young Indian woman coming of age in the Fiji islands whose traditional childhood both enriches and nearly destroys her
Growing up in the Fiji Islands in the late 1960s, Kalyana Mani Seth is an impressionable, plump young girl suited to the meaning of her name: blissful, blessed, the auspicious one. Her mother educates Kalyana about her Indian heritage, vividly telling tales of mischievous Krishna and powerful Mother Kali, and recounting her grandparents’ migration to the tiny, British colony.
While the island nation celebrates its recently granted independence, new stories of the feminist revolution in America are carried over the waves of the Pacific to Kalyana’s ears: stories of women who live with men who are not their husbands, who burn their bras, who are free to do as they please. Strange as all this sounds, Kalyana hopes that she will be blessed with a husband who allows her a similar sense of liberty.
But nothing prepares her for the trauma of womanhood and the cultural ramifications of silence and shame, as her mother tells her there are some family stories that should never be told.