A Year in Reading: V.V. Ganeshananthan

December 18, 2008 | 4 books mentioned 3

V.V. Ganeshananthan’s first novel, Love Marriage, was published in April by Random House. She lives in New York.

coverEdan Lepucki recommended it last year; I’m going to recommend it this year. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao astonishes me more every time I think about it, every time I discuss it with a friend or a student, every time I flip to a favorite passage again. What delightful nerdery to see how many of the references I get! Beyond that, I enjoy the incredible feat of craftsmanship and passion. The novel does a number of remarkable things. At the moment, I’m appreciating how its structure allows it to deal with ideas of community and belonging. The story, juggled between protagonist Oscar and narrator Yunior, simultaneously acknowledges and undermines stereotypes – as Yunior generalizes (sometimes carelessly, but often affectionately) about his own Dominican communities, he also tells the tale of their singular, beloved misfit: Oscar, who has to constantly insist on his own Dominican identity. I love this epic and I’ll read it again next year, I’m sure.

A Perfect Man, by Naeem Murr. When I picked this gorgeous book up, I was stunned by the depth of its world. Murr’s canny, sharp, sympathetic portrayal of children and adolescents kept me riveted.

I’m finishing off the year reading A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam. I’m not done with it yet, but I suspect it won’t take me long – the take on the Bangladesh War is great, and telling the story from the widow Rehana’s point of view gives the story a different freshness and sympathy.

More from A Year in Reading 2008

's first novel, Love Marriage, was long-listed for the Orange Prize and named one of Washington Post Book World's Best of 2008. She is the Zell Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Michigan.


  1. I concur with the comments about Oscar Wao. I just finished it and also found the nerdy references fun. I had almost forgotten about Harold Lauder.

  2. I too absolutely loved Oscar Wao and re-read it this year. It's amazing.

    But what really prompted me to comment is to thank you for recommending The Perfect Man. It's about as close to perfect as a work of fiction can get. Truly transporting. Too bad it hasn't received the audience it truly deserves.

    Read The Golden Age too which I thought was good but not great.

    Thanks again for the plug for The Perfect Man.

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