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The Marriage Bureau for Rich People


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About the Author

Farahad Zama is a British novelist. His first book The Marriage Bureau for Rich People won the Melissa Nathan Prize for best Comedy Romance Novel and was short-listed for Best Published Fiction at the Muslim Writers Awards. Zama was short-listed for Best New Writer of the Year at the British Book Awards. His other books include The Many Conditions of Love, The Wedding Wallah, Mrs. Ali's Road to Happiness, and Abacus. Zama lives in South London with his wife and two sons.


Mr. Ali, a retiree in a city in southern India, decides he needs something to do and opens a marriage bureau. He is soon so swamped with business that to assist him he hires a young woman named Aruna, whose Brahmin family has fallen on hard times. Zama is an admirer of Jane Austen, and though his debut does not exactly parallel one of her novels, there is a Mr. Darcy figure in the person of a handsome young doctor. The author also touches upon such pertinent topics as the caste system, the perils of political protest in India, and how the ordinary Indian is at the mercy of corrupt officials. But mostly this is a delightfully exotic love story (to Western readers anyway) with engaging characters and a happy ending. Mainly appealing to readers with some interest in Indian culture and customs.-Leslie Patterson, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

A thriving arranged-marriage bureau in contemporary India resides at the heart of Zama's charming debut. The customers who visit Mr. Ali's bureau-a project he began in retirement to pass the time-are mostly pragmatists: they look for mates based on height, complexion, caste, economic status and religion. As business picks up, Mr. Ali, a Muslim, takes on a young assistant, Aruna, a poor Hindu girl, who helps him formulate happy unions. While the bureau prospers, Mr. Ali and his wife contend with their headstrong son, a human rights advocate who worries them constantly, and Aruna faces her dismal home life and a handsome young client who may want more from her than lists of potential matches. Zama's strength is in showing the love that makes the matchmaking system possible, looking at the reciprocity, trust and devotion that underlie marriage. Though the dialogue can tend toward the wooden and some problems work out too tidily, Zama's delightful world of mid-morning tea breaks, afternoon siestas, picnics in mango groves and meddlesome aunties is a pleasant place to hang out. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

aA charming novel, fascinating in its depiction of a rich and exotic culture, yet filled with characters as familiar as your next-door neighbors.a
aAnn B. Ross, author of the "Miss Julia" novels
aFarahad Zamaas thoroughly entertaining debut novel captivates and delights. In marrying a uniquely Indian tale of culture and tradition to a universal story of family bonds tested and love triumphant, Zama has arranged a perfect match.a
aJennifer Chiaverini, author of the "Elm Creek Quilts" novels

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