500 pages of the best contemporary fiction you will read this year and probably next year too.
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
Bloomsbury Publishing UK
The story of a family, divided across generations and cultures, wrestling with its future and its past, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is at once magical, mouth-watering and heartbreaking.
Of all the family gatherings in her childhood, one stands out in Amina’s memory. It is 1979, in Salem India, when a visit to her grandmother’s house escalates into an explosive encounter, pitching brother against brother, mother against son.
In its aftermath, Amina’s father Thomas rushes his family back to their new home in America. And while at first it seems that the intercontinental flight has taken them out of harm’s way, his decision sets off a chain of events that will forever haunt Thomas and his wife Kamala; their intellectually furious son, Akhil and the watchful young Amina.
Now, twenty years later, Amina receives a phone call from her mother. Thomas has been acting strangely and Kamala needs her daughter back. Amina returns to the New Mexico of her childhood, where her mother has always filled silences with food, only to discover that getting to the truth is not as easy as going home.
Confronted with Thomas’s unwillingness to talk, Kamala’s Born Again convictions, and the suspicion that not everything is what it seems, Amina finds herself at the centre of a mystery so tangled that to make any headway, she has to excavate her family’s painful past. And in doing so she must lay her own ghosts to rest.
I hesitated before writing this review. Actually I did more than that, I procrastinated…for weeks. Let me explain; I read this book, I fell in love with the writing, the dialogue, the stories and the family and when I finished this book I didn’t know how I could possibly express my feelings and do justice to this book.
Maybe I’ll start with the writing – so realistic, flows, appears effortless, and beckons you to keep turning the pages. The narrative is complex yet reads beautifully and simply. The dialogue is natural, full of humour, full of meaning and spoke to me. The multiple story arcs; of family life, of growing up, of immigration, of life with children, of shedding skins and discovering who we really are and what is really important, of love, of death, tradition, ghosts of the past and the present …so many stories within a story, amazing! Delightful! Engaging! There is something in this novel that anyone can and will relate to.
All I can really do is suggest you read this powerful book. I know you will enjoy it. You can thank me later for the recommendation.