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Sujatha Gidla’s favourite book of 2017

Sujatha Gidla’s favourite book of 2017
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Sujatha Gidla, the much-discussed author of ‘Ants Among Elephants’ – the memoir of her family’s life in India as lowest group in the country’s caste...

Sujatha Gidla, the much-discussed author of ‘Ants Among Elephants’ – the memoir of her family’s life in India as lowest group in the country’s caste system picks her favourite book of 2017 for ‘Publisher’s Weekly’. She picks yet another memoir – ‘A Mother’s Tale’ by Phillip Lopate. She writes:

A Mother’s Tale by Phillip Lopate is a collection of the stories his mother, Frances, told of her childhood in Brooklyn in the 1920s and her life as a wife and mother, as well as a wartime factory worker, candy store owner, file clerk, singer, dancer, and actress. The book is based on taped conversations with her made when she was in her 60s, just as my own book is based on taped interviews of my mother and her brother.

Frances was a larger-than-life character who dominated Phillip’s life until he left home, and to some extent even afterward. The recurrent theme of her stories is that she was destined for great things but had been “thwarted, thwarted, thwarted” at every step. First by her tyrannical and prudish older sister, into whose care she fell after her parents’ early death, and later by her “useless” husband, Alfred Lopate.

Listening to her bitter complaints about Alfred, Phillip is frequently moved to take his father’s side. When she finds fault with her husband for listening to the radio every evening, Phillip defends him. If he came home after an exhausting day at the factory and wanted to relax with a ballgame, was that a crime?

I felt exactly like that when interviewing my mother about her marriage. She insisted that my father’s love of tea and cigarettes was the sole cause of our family’s financial ruin. I would think, “What kind of finances could be ruined by cigarettes and few cups of tea a day?”

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