Anything can happen beneath a perfect blue San Francisco sky — that is, when the fog decides to lift. Twenty-nine-year-old Lina Ray...
by Anjali Banerjee
Downtown Press, 256 pp., $13
Anything can happen beneath a perfect blue San Francisco sky — that is, when the fog decides to lift. Twenty-nine-year-old Lina Ray, India-born, American bred, makes miracles happen at San Francisco-based Lakshmi Matchmakers. In Lina’s business, fog is the least of her problems.
In Anjali Banerjee’s “Imaginary Men,” Lina has a knack for seeing the invisible “silver thread” that springs from a man’s chest and zeroes in on Ms. Right. This ability to see a perfect match before the couple does has paid off, even for her younger sister, Durga, who marries her dream man in an elaborate ceremony in Kolkata, India, home of the family matriarch, Great-Aunt Kiki.
Attending the wedding, Lina and a third sister, Kali, are confronted by their great-aunt Kiki, who is desperate to marry off her Westernized grandnieces to proper Indian grooms. At Durga’s wedding reception, Kiki tries setting up Lina with India’s bachelor version of Pee-wee Herman. The very prospect drives Lina to spin an elaborate lie: She’s already engaged, thanks very much.
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The author of “Imaginary Men” will read at 2 p.m. today, in a joint appearance with author Bharti Kirchner reading from “Pasties,” at Barnes & Noble in Bellevue (425-451-8463). Banerjee will appear at 1 p.m. Saturday at an autograph party with other romance/women’s fiction authors at Paperbacks Plus in Port Orchard (360-876-7224).
Word of Lina’s betrothal streaks through Durga’s wedding reception, and everyone demands details. Rather than confess her lie, Lina spins a portrait of the “mystery lover.” Leave it to Kiki’s personal astrologer to decree that Kiki must visit San Francisco to meet and place her stamp of approval on Lina’s (fictitious) fiancé. Kiki will touch down at SFI two months hence.
Will Lina be caught in her lie? Will the truth kill Lina’s aging parents and turn Kiki into a dervish?
The author’s hip-hot style combines breezy storytelling, wry humor and just enough poignant sauce in a romantic comedy equal to “Bend it Like Beckham.”
Even a raja would relish this rising star’s first novel.