India's cosmopolitan-sipping singles

Chick lit takes on arranged marriages, suffocating saris and fasting rituals.


Tracy Clark-Flory
December 1, 2007 3:58AM (UTC)

Chick lit has already tackled nearly every genre of fiction, and now it's conquering new countries. The Los Angeles Times reports today that the chick lit craze has hit India -- but instead of cosmo-swilling Manhattanites, the heroines sport saris and sip cocktails in Delhi and Mumbai. "This is the story of the new Indian woman in the cities. She is single, has a career and is willing to have fun, take risks and find a man her way, and not necessarily her family's way," said V.K. Karthika, chief editor at HarperCollins India. "It is a woman we have only read about in books from the Western countries and now, suddenly we are finding her on Indian roads."

Many of these books are steeped in American culture, but they aren't culturally tone-deaf; they also tackle arranged marriages and debate the sari and its "strangling folds." As Rama Lakshmi writes, "The heroines ... skillfully balance cultural traditions with 21st-century lifestyles, trying to observe fasting rituals while adhering to the Atkins or South Beach diet, choosing to hang out with gay friends or facing a mother's disapproval." Advaita Kala, author of "Almost Single," says these books represent "a sliver of Indian society," but one that is growing. "A generation ago, marriage was the only route to independence from parental control in India. Now women are working, living alone in the cities, hanging out with women friends, drinking, dating and having fun in spite of the enormous social pressure to get married," she says.

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Find yourself resistant to celebrating the spread of "Sex and the City"-style narratives? Consider the study a few months back that found that in rural Indian villages, access to cable TV -- especially soap operas with strong female characters -- has brought about feminist thinking and realities.


Tracy Clark-Flory

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