Mythili marries her long distance sweetheart Siddarth and then moves to the Phillipines, where he works. But in order to make the move, she gives up a thriving career as a crime reporter and embraces life on a “dependent visa.” Despite her speedy introduction to the rest of the “Desi Gang” (a group of Indian ex-pats), Mythili struggles to find a home in her marriage, in her new country, and in herself.
The thing that sticks with me about the book is the way that Mythili and Siddarth assemble their marriage. It’s clear that both of them are IN it and committed to it, despite the fact that they’re bickering their way through the really difficult identity issues that Mythili is facing. I found it so refreshingly different from the ways marriages are constructed by US writers, where the sovereignty of the individual is unquestionable and most marriages are broken in some fundamental way, on the verge of breaking, or have a bittersweet undertone that signals breaking is possible.
What didn’t work as well for me was the chapter-by-chapter allusions to Alice in Wonderland, and the frame story of Mythili’s return to India for her sister’s wedding three years after the events of the novel took place. The first felt overwrought or over-exerted somehow, and the latter felt underdeveloped, even for a novella.