The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka

a nutshell: this often dreamlike debut novel follows the generations of a family cursed with adversity in Malaysia – through the Japanese occupation and beyond

a line: “Under her skin are fine ancestors. They are there in her hands, her face, and the shadows, happy and sad, that cross her face”

an image: I was surprised to see Australia make a brief appearance halfway through the novel during an affectionate moment between Lakshmi and her granddaughter; Lakshmi decides to begin telling Dimple all the family stories so she could leave them in her care, then one day her granddaughter announces that she’ll be creating a dream trail of their history, like Aboriginal communities “in the red deserts of Australia” do

a thought: while recalling her devastation at leaving her mother for a forced child marriage, Lakshmi reflects on how life had yet to teach her that a child’s love can never equal a mother’s pain – something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently in comparing the way I feel about my father (in light of & in spite of his flaws) with the way his mother feels; I also wanted to mention that sometimes the vitriolic descriptions of Japanese men’s appearances (e.g. p126) were an uncomfortable distraction from the events themselves

a fact: in an interview Manicka shares how her mother would tell stories over dinner and explains that storytelling is a very natural part of Malaysian life

want to read The Rice Mother? visit here

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