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Love Marriage by V. V. Ganeshanathan

Love Marriage (2008)

by V. V. Ganeshanathan

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I read this book nearly six years ago and have had a great deal of difficulty getting a handle on the overarching theme. I will admit that, if nothing else, it educated me about the political unrest in Sri Lanka that has been ongoing for over thirty years. A fact most Westerners seem to be blissfully unaware of. I was able to learn more about the Tamil Tigers, the militant Sri Lankan rebel group, about whom I had only minimal knowledge based on my familiarity with the Sri Lankan hip-hop artist M.I.A.

Basically, it’s the story of Yalini, the American-born daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants (who are the “love marriage” couple of the book’s title). When her dying uncle, a Tamil Tiger rebel, comes to Toronto to live out his final days, she takes time off school to help care for him. Through conversations with him, his militant daughter Jenani, as well as her parents, she learns the history of her family and their war-torn nation.

The family stories are told as short vignettes, almost like fables. Through these tales Yalini sees that there are many different types of unions, not merely a “Love Marriage” or an “Arranged Marriage.” There is the Outside Marriage, the Cousin Marriage, the Self-Arranged Marriage, the Marriage without Consent, Marriage under Pressure and Marrying the Enemy. Both Yalini and the reader begin to understand that, in life, things are never merely one thing or another. There are many shades of grey in between. While reading of these various unions, I couldn’t help but wonder if the author wasn’t trying to comprehend the seemingly irreconcilable relationship between the Tamils and Sinhalese (who control government and its oppressive regime).

Ganeshananthan is an effective story-teller. I found the individual family vignettes enlightening, sometimes humorous and other times profoundly moving. Her characters are well-fleshed out and sympathetic. But most importantly, she demonstrates that life is complex and there’s more than one side to every story; one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

It just depends on your point of view. ( )
  blakefraina | Oct 2, 2014 |
This is a brilliant and amazing read. The author crafts an engaging story; others have described it here. I, however, will speak to the writing. V.V. has taken seemingly ordinary English words and placed them in a blend that is musical and poetic. Her sentences and paragraphs had me in awe and delight. There are no tricks or contortions. Simple words have been masterfully put together. They conveyed perspective, emotionally tugging and creating a mental surprise. There was dynamic tension and soothing revelation. V.V. kept up this efficient but consistent pace throughout the book. I finished the book last night and felt as if I lost a friend. The rhythm of the writing echoed in me and left me satisfied and wanting more. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A solid first novel told in short stories that make it an ideal choice for reading on short subway rides and other interrupted travels. I know nothing about Sri Lanka or its history, and was captivated by the story of the family told in this book. The book occasionally used Capital Letters to define terms (e.g., Love Marriage...Heart), which I found more irritating than effective. Definitely an enjoyable read. ( )
  msjoanna | Jan 4, 2010 |
Bored me but found the Sri Lankan history worth it. To see my full review please see my blog post here: http://amusedbybooks.blogspot.com/2009/12/at-least-i-learned-something.html ( )
  amusedbybooks | Dec 1, 2009 |
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In this globe-scattered Sri Lanken family, we speak only of two kinds of marriage.
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This LT Work is V.V. Ganeshananthan's debut novel about fractured family relationships in modern Sri Lanka, Love Marriage (2009). Please distinguish it from the similarly-titled anthology published by Peter Pauper Press, Love & Marriage (1965). Thank you.
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This is the debut novel from V.V. Ganeshananthan about fractured family relationships in modern Sri Lanka.

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