The Hero's Walk

The Hero's Walk

A Novel

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
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After the release of Anita Rau Badami's critically acclaimed first novel, Tamarind Mem , it was evident a promising new talent had joined the Canadian literary community. Her dazzling literary follow-up is The Hero's Walk , a novel teeming with the author's trademark tumble of the haphazard beauty, wreckage and folly of ordinary lives. Set in the dusty seaside town of Toturpuram on the Bay of Bengal, The Hero's Walk traces the terrain of family and forgiveness through the lives of an exuberant cast of characters bewildered by the rapid pace of change in today's India. Each member of the Rao family pits his or her chance at personal fulfillment against the conventions of a crumbling caste and class system.

Anita Rau Badami explains that " The Hero's Walk is a novel about so many things: loss, disappointment, choices and the importance of coming to terms with yourself and the circumstances of your life without losing the dignity embedded in all of us. At one level it is about heroism - not the hero of the classic epic, those enormous god-sized heroes - but my fascination with the day-to-day heroes and the heroism that's needed to survive all the unexpected disasters and pitfalls of life."
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : Knopf, 2000.
ISBN: 9780676973600
0676973604
9780676972252
067697225X
Characteristics: 359 p. ;,21 cm.

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n
nk23132007754355
Oct 18, 2016

I can't say enough good things about this book! The writing was flawless and the story, interlaced with an intricate array of memorable characters, was amazing.

From crochety grandma Ammala to the trio of girlhood bullies who torment Nandana, the characters solidify the neighborhood that surrounds the Rao family as they navigate the changing world around them, from Brahmin supremacy to inclusivity.

l
Liber_vermis
Aug 30, 2016

I was bewildered that Sripathi's elderly mother, Ammayya, didn't learn from her son's estrangement from his daughter, Maya, when she opposed her Brahmin daughter, Putti, marrying the rags-to-riches milkman's son. The scenes in this book are emotional, vivid, and lively. In the end, the family moves on with its lives ... it is not "happily ever after." The novel would have benefited from a glossary of Indian words such as khachda, mutthal, and agda-bagda.

h
hRuth
Jul 13, 2016

Another Canada Reads novel completed. One sure way to get a good read. I liked this story a lot. It saddens me that so many cultures restrict personal feelings and desires for one's own future. So much sadness in this eastern/western theme.... leaves one feeling rather 'heavy'.

m
Margush
Jul 10, 2016

Loved this book! The book is well organized and beautifully written with a great sense of kind and good humour. One of the main characters - a mother-in-law - may remind someone you may know!

w
writermala
May 21, 2016

Badami deals very well with the Inter and Intra generational conflicts of a South Indian Brahmin family beset by a tragedy. Will the tragedy bring them together or pull them apart? Badami is a great storyteller and handles the delicate subject with finesse.

r
ritarufus
May 10, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. The struggle of culture and maintaining traditions threaten this Indian family. Letting go and following their hearts finally allowed them happiness.
A young girl orphaned in Canada is brought to live with grandparents in India. How the older generation adapts to changing times.

t
The_Whiz
Mar 26, 2016

Sripathi, an Indian man estranged from his daughter, hears she died in a car accident in Vancouver, Canada, leaving only her daughter behind. Reluctantly, he brings her back to India, where both lives start anew.

Sounds interesting, at least the first half.

Badami sets up the tragedy well in the first half, detailing the strife and troubles plaguing the main character, Sripathi, from his broken relationship with his father, his failure to be a doctor later, to his daughter embarrassing him by revoking the arranged marriage he set up for his daughter. The language and description used for the atmosphere is excellent. Badami shows us the bleak environment that Sripathi lives day to day, and how he feels about it.

When we get to half of the book, the part where granddaughter and grandfather meet, it goes astray. Other chapters are preoccupied with other uninteresting characters and their uninteresting problems. The only redeeming part was reading about granddaughter Nandana, and her difficulty in coping with her new homeland. There doesn't seem to be any growth between grandfather and granddaughter. Things just happen. Then it ends.

Book starts beautifully, but ends flat.

I'm glad the book did not win 2016 Canada Reads contest. Story is more important than character, description, setting, or quality writing combined. The book had the latter, not the former.

k
kathy7777
Mar 23, 2016

Finalist in Canada Reads 2016 and I absolutely hope it wins tomorrow. I think this book is so beautifully written and takes me to India to see a world I don't know.

d
dirtbag
Mar 10, 2016

If there is any justice this book will win Canada Reads. The quality of writing; characterization; and setting far exceeds any other of the short-listed books

w
wyenotgo
Feb 25, 2016

This book is all about character and place, the story being almost inconsequential. Sripathi, the main protagonist is, as noted in the title to chapter 12 "an ordinary man." In many ways, he has been a failure, first having failed to live up to the expectations of his parents, then seeing his fortunes, already damaged by his father's profligacy continue to decline, his house crumble into decay, his somewhat demeaning employment become increasingly tenuous. He even blames himself for failing to find a husband for his sister, who is dependent upon him. His daughter has disgraced him by backing out of an advantageous marriage and marrying a foreigner; his son shows no promise, being interested only is street activism in support of vague ideals that seem to have no relevance to his family and their daily realities. Sripathi spends his leisure time writing hundreds of letters to editors of several newspapers. Then he finds himself also saddled with a seven year old granddaughter whom he has never before met and who in turn seems frightened by him and refuses to speak. Among the other characters, certainly the most compelling (and infuriating) is Sripathi's mother Ammayya, a nasty, manipulative, venal tyrant who, among her many sins, has conspired to make sure that her daughter Putti will never find a husband, so that she will remain Ammayya's personal slave.
Apart from the people, there's another gigantic character that pervades the entire scene: it is India, or in this case a slice of India, the dusty, chaotic, smelly, noisy seaside town of Toturpuram. Therein lies the richness of this book and what lifts it far above the "ordinary". Badami has captured the setting so magnificently that I could feel the stink of the non-functioning sewers, the overpoweringly oppressive midday heat, the deafening din of traffic and crowded humanity sinking into my own flesh and bones. I was particularly struck by a passage in the chapter titled "Journey" describing a scene in the midst of the city traffic:
"In between lanes, at the site of some repair work temporarily abandoned by the municipality for lack of funds or inclination to work, a beggar had constructed a house with gunny sacks, sewer covers stolen from around the city, empty boxes that had once contained television sets, and even a pilfered sign that said: 'Private Property -- Beware of Dog'. The last bit of the message had been scratched out and replaced with 'Mr. S. S. Ishiwaran, M.A. History, University of Kupparigunda'. Mr. Ishiwaran himself stood outside his home with a disdainful expression on his face, as if he had nothing to do with the shack behind him. Now and again he lost his aloofness and screamed spectacular abuse at one of several naked children playing calmly in the middle of all the traffic, dashing after marbles among the churning wheels."

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