The Paths of Marriage is my debut novel and is available worldwide in paperback and eBook.
The Paths of Marriage came out in October 2014 through the Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company under their BInk Imprint.
Lakshmi, a bright student who grew up in poverty, marries and immigrates to the United States from India to provide a better life for herself and her family. Clinging to her cultural realities, she forces her American daughter, Pooja, into an arranged marriage, creating a rift of resentment. Pooja’s daughter, Deepa, is an out lesbian to everyone but her family. The woman Deepa loves presents an ultimatum—come out to Pooja or break up—and Deepa is forced to confront her greatest fear.
Three generations of Indian and Indian-American women navigate the harsh slums of Chennai to the bustle of New York City, struggling through a cathartic generational collision to try to come together as a family.
Ms. Kumar has managed to narrate each story in a different voice, a different style, to suit each generation and time period. Her descriptions, particularly of rural India, are exquisite. The sights, sounds, and smells of Chennai flow off the page like a pool of color to surround us…A thoughtful and interesting journey, punctuated with personal dramas and enough pace to keep it moving along, this is an excellent novel. It should speak to all women, whatever our cultural background, and—as with all great writing—should make us think. In this case the lesson is one of recognizing our mothers as individuals who had their own battles and made their own sacrifices.
The Paths of Marriage is a richly textured story full of bountiful detail, well-defined characters, and unexpected cultural and social insight. It expresses a rare fidelity and beauty, while having the heart to show both the dark underbelly of Indian and American cultures, as well as the bright lights they share…In the hands of a less passionate writer, such thematic material might easily have become didactic, and the characters might have seemed like paper doll cutouts from a Bollywood knockoff of The Joy Luck Club. But in the hands of Mala Kumar, who has a wonderful eye for detail, an ear for dialogue, a soul-deep empathy for her subject matter, and a gently colloquial style of writing, they form the beautiful and compelling story we’ve waited a long time to read. The Paths of Marriage is a must read, not just for members of the Indian-American community, but for lesbians, feminists, and women of all sizes, shapes, colors, and beliefs.
An utterly beautiful work with a roller coaster of emotions. It has been a very long time since I have gotten so emotionally invested in a story. I loved it.
In the spring and fall of 2015, I was honored to do a 10-event book tour along the east coast of the United States. Below are some of the highlights. If you’d like to book me at an event, please email me.
Events: IAAC Literary Festival, NYC (October 2015) | OutWrite LGBT Book Festival and Panel, DC (August 2015) | Coming Out Panel, API PFLAG, NYC (May 2015) | Indian/South Asian Book Club, NYC (May 2015) | SAWCC Literary Festival, NYC (April 2015) | Bluestockings Bookstore, NYC (April 2015) | Rainbow Book Fair, NYC (April 2015) KhushDC, DC (March 2015) | Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (March 2015) | Wine and Barrel, Richmond, VA (March 2015)
|Golden Crown Literary Society||Finalist, Dramatic/General Fiction|
|Rainbow Book Award||Finalist, Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction|
For Book Clubs
The Paths of Marriage and the subjects it covers are more critical than ever to discuss. If you’re reading The Paths of Marriage at your book club or school, click here to download book group and classroom discussion questions to get started.