Silence and misunderstanding fill the spaces between an Indian mother and her grown American children, Ronak and Mala. When the mother, never named within the novel, finds out that she is dying of cancer, her husband, Abhi wants to tell the children who are coming to visit for Christmas. The mother says no; let them stay normal for a while. Mala has a husband, an arranged marriage, and children. Ronak is too selfish to think of anyone but himself.
A passionate profile of the dynamics and dichotomy of immigrant parents and their Americanized offspring, The Abundance transforms into a story about all parents and the hidden untold secrets that keep the generations from really knowing each other. Abhi insists that Mala and Ronak be told, and suddenly the mother becomes the focus of her children, instead of their own families, lives and work. They begin to spend visits seeing Abhi and his wife, their parents.
Mala fills the vagaries of intimacy by starting to learn how to cook Indian food through her mother’s recipes. Her mother had to take one more test before she became a doctor but she gave it up to raise her children and to cook: she is an expert Indian cook. Through the recipes, and the patience of learning, Mala starts to hear her mother’s vulnerabilities and they begin to talk – really talk – to each other.
Ronak learns compassion as he sees his mother dying and cannot crack the fortress of Mala and his mother’s new intimacy. When he learns to do so, he becomes more human, and loving.
This is a lovely novel, although the topic to me was better done by Amy Tan in The Joy Luck Club. And yet – The Abundance sits on your heart and then splinters in, and I loved Majmudar’s prose and startling sentience about families.
The Abundance: A Novel is available at bookstores around the country.
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.