Tehmina Sethna's beloved husband has died this past year and she is visiting her son, Sorab, in his suburban Ohio home. Now Tehmina is being asked to choose between her old, familiar life in India and a new one in Ohio with her son, his American wife, and their child. She must decide whether to leave the comforting landscape of her native India for the strange rituals of life in a new country.
This is a journey Tehmina, a middle-aged Parsi woman, must travel alone.
The Parsis were let into India almost a millennium ago because of their promise to "sweeten" and enrich the lives of the people in their adopted country. This is an ancient promise that Tehmina takes seriously. And so, while faced with the larger choice of whether to stay in America or not, Tehmina is also confronted with another, more urgent choice: whether to live in America as a stranger or as a citizen. Citizenship implies connection, participation, and involvement. Soon destiny beckons in the form of two young, troubled children next door. It is the plight of these two boys that forces Tehmina to choose. She will either straddle two worlds forever and live in a no-man's land or jump into the fullness of her new life in America.
If Today Be Sweet is a novel that celebrates family and community. It is an honest but affectionate look at contemporary America—the sterility of its suburban life, the tinsel of its celebrity culture, but also the generosity of its people and their thirst for connection and communication. Eloquently written, evocative, and unforgettable, If Today Be Sweet is a poignant look at issues of immigration, identity, family life, and hope. It is a novel that shows how cultures can collide and become better for it.
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Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels—The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, Cleveland Arts Prize, and Seth Rosenberg Prize, and is the Armington Professor of English at Case-Western Reserve University.From Publishers Weekly:
In Umrigar's tender fourth novel, Tehmina "Tammy" Sethna is torn between two cultures that couldn't be more different: Bombay and Cleveland. The former is her homeland, but after her husband's recent death, she's been staying with her son and his family in America. Tehmina loves being near grandson Cookie, but she often feels like an intruder in her American daughter-in-law's home, and she's disconcerted by the changes in her son, Sorab, who is stressed from the corporate rat race. Though Tehmina's loneliness floods her with memories of her husband, the Parsi community back in India and her traditional ways, she finds no small amount of purpose (and celebrity) in Cleveland after suspecting her neighbor of child abuse and intervening on the children's behalf. Immigration laws, meanwhile, force her to decide whether she'll remain in Cleveland or return to Bombay. Umrigar (The Space Between Us) shows the unseemly side of American excess and prejudice while gently reminding readers of opportunities sometimes taken for granted. (June)
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