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Rani Manicka was born and educated in Malaysia. An economics graduate, she now divides her time between Malaysia and the UK. Her first novel, The Rice Mother, won the South East Asia and South Pacific Region 2003 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, has been translated into 17 languages, and gained international acclaim.
Photograph © Jerry Bauer
A big, lush novel of prostitution, corruption, heroin addiction, despair and squalor, but this is no sordid tale, however depraved the characters and debauched their world. It is a very human story of lost innocence and hope as Balinese twins are exploited. It is also beautifully written; an extraordinary sensation, dark and powerful.Comparison: Sarah Waters, Colleen McCullough, Santa Montefiore.Similar this month: None but try Nicky Pellegrino or Joshilyn Jackson.
Parvathi leaves her native Ceylon for Malaya and an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman. But her father has cheated, supplying a different girl's photograph, and Kasu Marimuthu, furious, threatens to send her home in disgrace. Gradually husband and wife reach an agreement, and the naive young girl learns to assume the air of sophisticated mistress of a luxurious estate. She even adopts his love child and treats Rubini as her own daughter - a generous act which is rewarded by a long-wished-for son. But it is a life without passion, and Parvathi dreams of loving - and being loved - with complete abandon. When the Japanese invade Malaya, in WW2, they requisition the estate. Marimuthu dies and Parvathi is forced to accept the protection of the Japanese general who has robbed her of her home. For the first time, she experiences sexual passion. And gradually, her sworn enemy becomes the lover she has always yearned for . . .
A compelling glimpse into a captivatingly exotic world of myth and magic. Beguiled by promises of wealth, fourteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her native Ceylon for Malaya and marriage to a man many years her senior. But Ayah has lied to her and her family about his circumstances and in fact he lives in poverty. A woman of formidable energy and intelligence, Lakshmi provides security, if not luxury, for her family, though at a considerable emotional cost. Then the Japanese army invades during WWII. The family bears deep scars and inflicts those wounds on the next generation. But in Nisha, Lakshmi's great-granddaughter, it is as if Fate has come full circle . . .