THE RED CARPET by Lavanya Sankaran is collection of entwining short stories, as rich and absorbing as any novel. For any readers who love Jhumpa Lahiri or Arundhati Roy.
'I recommend this book so highly' Washington Post
From traditional mothers trying to marry off their Westernised children to software billionaires, chauffeurs and the legacy of the Raj, Lavanya Sankaran's stories of Bangalore, India's Silicone Valley, are a pleasure from first to last.
Traditional values and new expectations confront the diverse residents of Bangalore, where rutted, nearly impassable roads and one-room schoolhouses lie a half-hour's drive from glittering department stores selling aromatherapy candles amid the piped-in tunes of Billy Joel and Eminem, in Sankaran's animated debut collection. In "Bombay This," Ramu, a 30-year-old software employee recently dedicated to finding himself a wife, employs his mother as a matchmaker (or "Connubial Pimp," in his casual, irreverent parlance) while keeping his own eyes open, and grows increasingly drawn to a vivacious Bombay woman whose modern ways his mother can't understand. In the title story, an impoverished chauffeur's affection for his boss, the kindly memsahib all the servants call Maydum, clashes with his discomfort over what he believes are her immoral behaviors. A willful young girl and her manipulative nanny engage in an escalating battle of lies and betrayal in "Two Four Six Eight," while a young accountant, already betrayed by her father's suicide, sees her work co-opted by a slick, handsome colleague in "Mysore Coffee." Though the stories often don't end as strongly as they begin Sankaran builds tension brilliantly but doesn't always offer a climax to balance it they are memorable for their subtle wit and convincing evocation of a dynamic world.