[Book Review] Serving Crazy with Curry by Amulya Malladi
Title: Serving Crazy With Curry
Author: Amulya Malladi
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: October 25th, 2004
Category: Fiction/Indian Lit/ Family/Cultural/Food Lit
Between the pressures to marry and become a traditional Indian wife and the humiliation of losing her job in Silicon Valley, Devi is on the edge-where the only way out seems to be to jump. . . .
Yet Devi’s plans to “end it all” fall short when she is saved by the last person she wants to see: her mother. Forced to move in with her parents until she recovers, Devi refuses to speak. Instead, she cooks . . . nonstop. And not the usual fare, but off the wall twists on Indian classics, like blueberry curry chicken or Cajun prawn biryani. Now family meals are no longer obligations. Devi’s parents, her sister, and her brother-in-law can’t get enough-and they suddenly find their lives taking turns as surprising as the impromptu creations Devi whips up in the kitchen each night. Then a stranger appears out of the blue. Devi, it appears, had a secret-one that touches many a nerve in her tightly wound family. Though exposing some shattering truths, the secret will also gather them back together in ways they never dreamed possible.
Interspersed with mouthwatering recipes, this story mixes humor, warmth, and leap-off-the-page characters into a rich stew of a novel that reveals a woman’s struggle for acceptance from her family and herself.
This book is about Devi and her dysfunctional family. Unlike any other Indian Lit that I read, this one is blunt and digs about the taboo subjects among Indians: pre-marital sex, divorce, suicide, and atheism.
It started with Devi who tried to kill herself, but failed. Then The narrator told about Devi’s grandfather who committed suicide. It touches the psychological aspect. I read somewhere that suicidal tendencies run in the family. Britney Spears, who was in turbulance (we don’t know what she did to herself during that phase), was in the tabloids. One article mentioned about her grandmother who hanged herself (if I’m not mistaken). It makes sense to me.
After the fail suicide attempt, Devi shut her mouth and being muted for four months. One by one, the secrets in the family revealed. Sobha’s unhappy marriage with Girish, his husband through arranged marriage. Saroj and Avi’s marriage was also in trouble (Saroj and Avi are Devi and Sobha’s parents). And Vasu, Saroj’s mother who has health issues. She was gloomy after the love of her life died of cancer.
Devi discovered her passion in the kitchen. During her mute phase, she tried to cook Indian food, and the result was surprisingly great. She’s become the best chef in the house.
Out of the blue, Jay, Devi’s ex-lover-turned-best friend, came to her house to spill the shocking news, the secret that Devi buried. That’s the main reason of her mental breakdown.
It’s the best family fiction I’ve ever read. Every character has its flaw. The family is traditional but less religious. Even Sobha said she’s an atheist. And, of course, the mouth watering recipes are appealing.
The last part is also my favorite, when Amulya talked to the characters. A unique approach in writing.
If you love family drama, don’t miss this one.