The Hero's Walk

Anita Rau Badami

Published by Vintage Canada, 2001
ISBN 10: 0676973604 / ISBN 13: 9780676973600
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Synopsis: In a small, dusty town in India, Sripathi Rao struggles as a copywriter to keep his family afloat in their crumbling ancestral home. But his mother berates him for not becoming a lawyer, his son prefers social protest to work, his unmarried sister seethes with repressed desire, and his wife, though subservient, blames him for refusing to communicate with their daughter Maya, who defied tradition, rejecting her proper Brahmin fiancé for a Caucasian husband. Then a phone call brings tragedy: Maya and her husband have been killed in an accident leaving Sripathi to be their daughter’s guardian. Sripathi reluctantly travels to Vancouver to bring the child back to India. Nandana has not spoken a word since her parents’ death. Terrified, she resists her distant grandfather. Filled with guilt about his daughter but unable to express his feelings, Sripathi finds everything in his life falling apart. But with Nandana’s arrival, his world slowly, unexpectedly, finds new hope.

The Hero’s Walk is a remarkably intimate novel that fills the senses with the unique textures of India. With humor and keen insight, Anita Rau Badami draws us into her story of the graceful heroism of the ordinary.

Review: The Hero's Walk, the second novel by Anita Rau Badami, is a big, intimate book, the kind that seldom strays beyond the doors of a single residence. Set in the sweltering streets of Toturpuram, a small city on the Bay of Bengal, The Hero's Walk, which won the 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize for best book in Canada and the Caribbean, explores the troubled life of Sripathi Rao, an unremarkable, middle-aged family man and advertising copywriter.

As The Hero's Walk opens, Sripathi's life is already in a state of thorough disrepair. His mother, a domineering, half-senile octogenarian, sits like a tyrant at the top of his household, frightening off his sister's suitors, chastising him for not having become a doctor, and brandishing her hypochondria and paranoia with sinister abandon. It is Sripathi's children, however, who pose the biggest problems: Arun, his son, is becoming dangerously involved in political activism, and Maya, his daughter, broke off her arranged engagement to a local man in order to wed a white Canadian. Sripathi's troubles come to a head when Maya and her husband are killed in an automobile accident, leaving their 7- year-old daughter, Nandana, without Canadian kin. Sripathi travels to Canada and brings his granddaughter home, while his family is shaken by a series of calamities that may, eventually, bring peace to their lives. --Jack Illingworth

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Title: The Hero's Walk
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Very Good

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