Thursday, November 22, 2007

"My Family and Other Saints"

New from the University of Chicago Press: My Family and Other Saints by Kirin Narayan.

About the book, from the publisher:

In 1969, young Kirin Narayan’s older brother, Rahoul, announced that he was quitting school and leaving home to seek enlightenment with a guru. From boyhood, his restless creativity had continually surprised his family, but his departure shook up everyone — especially Kirin, who adored her high-spirited, charismatic brother.

A touching, funny, and always affectionate memoir, My Family and Other Saints traces the reverberations of Rahoul's spiritual journey through the entire family. As their beachside Bombay home becomes a crossroads for Westerners seeking Eastern enlightenment, Kirin’s sari-wearing American mother wholeheartedly embraces ashrams and gurus, adopting her son’s spiritual quest as her own. Her Indian father, however, coins the term “urug” — guru spelled backward — to mock these seekers, while young Kirin, surrounded by radiant holy men, parents drifting apart, and a motley of young, often eccentric Westerners, is left to find her own answers. Deftly re-creating the turbulent emotional world of her bicultural adolescence, but overlaying it with the hard-won understanding of adulthood, Narayan presents a large, rambunctious cast of quirky characters, from her grandmother Ba, who enjoys visits from Hindu deities, to such urugs as Bhagwan Dass and the Cupboard Swami. Throughout, she brings to life not just a family but also a time when just about everyone, it seemed, was consumed by some sort of spiritual quest.

Interweaving family stories and mythology, My Family and Other Saints is a poignant reminder that the stories we tell are at the heart of the bonds that tie a family together, no matter how far afield our journeys may take us.
Read an excerpt from My Family and Other Saints.