Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BOOK: The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami

The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami, 359 pages
review copy from Random House Canada

How awesome is Canada Reads? Each year, CBC radio hosts a debate about five Canadian books with five known people (I don't want to call them celebrities) on public radio. The books have a theme sometimes - this year's is 'starting over'. Lively debates, voting out, strategic voting by times, listening in each day to hear people discuss and debate literature and how it impacts our life. Sweet.

The Hero's Walk was chosen for 2016 Canada Reads, suprising the author with attention for her fifteen year old book. Because of this, Anita Rau Badami was at my local library last week for an evening of reading and discussion as she tours the country. She was wonderful - reading a couple of passages from her book, telling stories about her life and writing, and signing books. I found her very delightful and funny and I'll admit that hearing her talk about this book predisposed me to like the book. It could be that knowing she wrote this book to look into what it means to be a hero, even in simple, everyday life, made me read it slightly differently. But I did, and it was a very good read.

Badami first of all made me really feel the setting of a town in India, and the Big House, where most of the action takes place. Sripathy Rao is the character in the middle of the story. His life is a disappointment, to his mother and slightly to himself. When his daughter Maya and her husband and killed in Canada (after her father disowned her for her marriage), their orphaned daughter must come to live in India. Sripathy has a super cranky mother, actually quite mean, a put upon wife, a lazy lay-about son only interested in protesting, and a fifty year old sister who is still hoping to marry. Having this little girl, Nandana, arrive at their house causes nearly everyone to re-examine their life and make some changes.

Humourous, with real, everyday characters, I wanted to see these people do well and make the changes they needed to be happy. With the death of Maya hanging over everyone, Badami could have written a dark, heavy book, but instead it was charming and wonderful. I hope she and her book, do well at Canada Reads, and I'll be looking for more of her books to read.

Other books to try: Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, Tell It to the Trees, Tamarind Mem