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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blog Tour: An Unlikely Goddess by Mohanalaskshmi Rajakumar (Interview + Giveaway)

Happy New Year, everyone! To begin the year, Buried Under Romance is hosting an interview for


**Mohanalakshmi will be awarding a free ecopy of An Unlikely Goddess to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

About the book:
Sita is the firstborn but since she is a female, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrants as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother. Her father’s academic ambitions take the family all over the United States, as he chases grant funding at universities in several states. His financial challenges make life at home stressful for Sita, her mother, and younger brother – but the women of the family bear the brunt of his frustrations – both physically and emotionally. Hers is a South Indian family, from Tamil Nadu, one of the most conservative states in the subcontinent.
***
Interview:
1. Did you feel your own cultural identity being challenged as you were growing up? If so, in what ways?

I often felt that I didn’t belong anywhere. I was too American for my Indian parents and I was too Indian for my American classmates. This meant I often had to switch between the values and identities of these groups to be what other people wanted me to be. As I grew up and moved to bigger cities, I realized it wasn’t all of one or the other but I could choose which values I wanted to have and when.

2. How have you own experiences living in South Asia contributed to your voice in the book?

The feelings and themes in the book are very much true to life – either mine or those of others who have told me their stories – in many ways this is a story about what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t belong. And a young woman looking for love. These ideas are universal: whether you’re South Asian or not, everyone has a growing up story and many times there are many painful moments.

3. Has the protagonist Sita been prejudiced from birth because she is female? Or because the family expects at least one son?

When you say prejudiced do you mean discriminated against? Yes. The truth still is that women are not as valued as men – in the world – but I’m showing how this is true in this particular family at this particular time.

4. In Sita's culture, are women allowed to express resentment against their burdens, emotionally or financially? 

In South Asian culture speaking about intimate topics is very difficult, especially for younger people and particularly for women. For the family in the book, emotional constipation begins with the father and is passed through to the other members. This is one of Sita’s major struggles. 

5. What is the message you intended readers to take away by the end of the book? 

I hope readers can relate to wanting to find true love and true faith; this is a quest story in many ways and it takes Sita a long time to realize that she is her own best mentor. We are stronger than we think and have more in common than the media shows us.
***
Excerpt: 
The Hindu goddess, Sita, is said to have been born from the Earth.

King Janaka discovers the beautiful infant and in her beauty, believes in her divinity. He raises her as his own daughter……

Prologue 

Unlike her namesake, Sita's first mistake was being born.

A girl, her mother thought, eyes dark in abject terror. What if he leaves me? She swallowed, increasing the dryness in her post-delivery mouth, the stiches across her abdomen itching. No water. Only ice chips until her bowels passed the tests. Mythili pressed back against the pillows. She closed her eyes, pushing her fingers into the sockets until the darkness was punctuated by bone-white stars. She wished she could as easily tune out the gurgles of the baby in the bassinet beside her.

Yet, even premature and unwanted, Sita was obliviously happy to enter the world, beaming her infant smile at anyone or anything she saw: the nurse, her aunt, her mother's back, the noxiously-pink cement walls of the Madras hospital in which she found herself. Several pounds underweight, she was otherwise fine—a petite, brown-skinned baby with tufts of black hair crowning a smooth scalp. How could she be expected to know that from her first breath she was, and always would be, a living reminder of her mother's failure to produce a first-born male heir?
            
Though swaddled and placed in the bassinet immediately after delivery, her eyes were alive with motion. She blinked up at the faces of passersby, but they were admittedly few, so instead, she followed the blinking lights, the creeping shadows and the occasional appearance of a nurse. Everything about the world kept her busy with delight until sleep washed over her little body

 “Look at that smile,” the young nurse said, cradling Sita against her flat bosom.

“Aamam,” Priya, the childless aunt, agreed, rubbing a forefinger across the baby’s somewhat wrinkly face.

Instead of replying, Mythili, Sita’s mother, pulled a see-through blue sheet up to her chin and turned her face away.
***
About the author:
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.  She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.

Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Dohmestics-ebook/dp/B00AREGO36

Twitter: www.twitter.com/moha_doha

Facebook: www.facebook.com/themohadoha

Pintrest: www.pintrest.com/mohadoha

YouTube: www.youtube.com/themohadoha

website: www.mohanalakshmi.com

**Mohanalakshmi will be awarding a free ecopy of An Unlikely Goddess to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway! The book sounds great! Best of success with it. ^_^

    cloud.weaver.girl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a good read.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

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  3. Happy New Year to all! Hope you spend it with great reads :).

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  4. Sounds like an amazing story, sad but powerful. Happy New Year to a new-to-me author. I will enjoy following your tour learning more about you and your book.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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  5. =/ Sad story.. sounds like it'll be very moving though! Thanks for the excerpt.

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  6. Fascinating view of another life style. I enjoyed the excerpts.

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  7. Definitely Not a lite read! Looks like a great book. :-)

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  8. Nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  9. Great interview!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Happy New Year!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

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  10. I liked Sita's story! The telling of her birth and laying in her bassinet with her active eyes was so descriptive. ghwasd at gmail dot com

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  11. I'm looking forward to reading more. Fantastic story line.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete

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