The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing Hardcover – 3 Jul 2014
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Punchy, clever and stuffed with delicious chapatis, Mira Jacob's first novel jumps effortlessly from India to the States, creating a vibrant portrait of a world in flux (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story)
In this beautifully observed, generous debut that reaches right into the heart of family and belonging, Mira Jacob shows how grief and loss can illuminate everything (Claire King, author of The Night Rainbow)
The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing seizes the reader early and never lets go. Its electricities reside in Mira Jacob's acute details and the sadness, anger and humor of her characters. This novel tells many wonderful stories while also telling, beautifully, the story that counts the most (Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and Home Land)
Mira Jacob has written an utterly dazzling, epic debut. The story of an Indian-American family is at once completely relatable and totally fresh. A beautifully timed novel, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is intricately woven and sparklingly played out, and it triumphs. I did not want this breathtaking book to end (Julie Klam, author of Friendkeeping)
What a thrill to discover Mira Jacob, a warm, witty new voice in American fiction. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is both rich and wise. I savored every page (Amanda Eyre Ward, author of How to Be Lost)
I read this in one sitting. I couldn't have stopped, wouldn't even have noticed if my house had caught fire. Mira Jacob is a born storyteller and a fantastic writer. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a truly great book (Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life)
This is an effortlessly gorgeous and rich book. Its prose is lovely and precise, alternately luminous and direct; its observations of people and families and the physical world are poignant and a delight. The dialogue is sharp, funny, and true. This is a triumphant debut! (Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir!)
The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a time-traveling multigenerational saga that still remains intimate in its feel and central focus. For all of its witty and loving attention to the power of familial bonds, it is most eloquent on the subject of a grief so profound that its everyday weight pulls the grievers closer to the dead than to the living. And yet the overall effect, miraculously, is celebratory (Jim Shepard, author of You Think That’s Bad and Like You’d Understand Anyway)
Jacob's darkly comic debut is grounded in the specifics of the middle-class Indian immigrant experience while uncovering the universality of family dysfunction and endurance . [Written] with naked honesty about the uneasy generational divide among Indians in America and about family in all its permutations (Kirkus (starred review))
I was hooked from page one! (Company Magazine)
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 heartbreakingSee all Product description
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The book promised to be a diasporic read (one of my favourite genres) and the timing felt right. It is a tome of a book and despite friendly warning by a fellow reader "not to keep my expectations high" and that it was "still a good read".
A malayalee family settled in the US visits family in Kerala for holidays in the 70s. There is a matriach mother who wants to bring her prodigal son back home. A son who resents the trappings of a tight knit family and a child who sees everything through her own childlike vision.
Years later, when the son, now a famous surgeon is seen as behaving erratically, the daughter Amina Eapen is called back home. She has to piece together events in the past and present as she delves into family secrets and tries to find direction in her own life in the process.
The prose. It is beautifully written though a bit of sharp editing would have helped a bit.
The characters. It was reminicent of God of small things, mainly because of the Syrian family connection. However the story is completely different and very diasporic in nature.
The story moves well back and forth in time. I loved the incident in India and the growing up years of Amina and her brother more than the present timeline. For me, that held a better connection than Amina's current situation.
There are times when the plot loses the reader especially pertaining to Amina's life. The author takes for granted that the reader will be familiar with Amina's line of work or setting. That is not the case.
Amina's profession, its description sounds a bit alien at times, failing to build the connection with the reader.
The story with its weighty paragraphs can be very heavy, affecting the reader's interest levels.
It is a good one off read but then like the fellow reader also suggested, go in expecting much else and you may be disappointed.
Along with several storylines and interconnected relationships, the author, Mira Jacob, tempted me with descriptions of all the wonderful Indian food that the characters were preparing and eating. The story made me feel so involved that I found myself cooking Indian food for several days while reading the novel and since finishing. I even found myself looking up recipes on the web and preparing some of the dishes she described. I loved this family and felt so involved in their story. Although the book was over 500 pages, I truly didn't want to see it end. It would be so nice if Jacob were to write a sequel so we could continue on with this family.
It is the story of the Eapen family: mother Kamala, never truly settled in America, steely, obstinate, a preserver of the Indian ways - particularly in the kitchen. Thomas, the charismatic but largely absent head of the family, always putting his neurological patients first. Akhil, their son, whose tendency to fall in love and fall asleep leads to a pivotal plot line. And Amina, their daughter and our narrator, the only member of the family to have been born in America.
A promising photojournalist now reduced to working as a wedding photographer, Amina, around whom this narrative swirls backwards and forwards in time and place, is the camera whose lens is focused on her immediate and extended family. Mira Jacob creates a cast of believable three-dimensional characters and I loved that she was able to retain a sense of humour even as the pathos mounted. When one of Amina's photographs reveals the shadow of her long dead grandmother, a slight element of magic realism adds a further dimension to this compelling family story.
This is a début that impresses and appeals in equal measure. How long it will take Ms Jacob to conquer the challenge of the second novel, who can say? But it is certainly something to look forward to with relish.