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If marriage isn’t in the immediate picture, what does Maya want to do with her life?

Posted: 12.05.15

Maya Khan wants no part of an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, she makes this discovery the day of her wedding. Panicking, sweating, and swearing simultaneously, Maya escapes out the back window, scales down her parent’s two story house in her big, flapping sari and lands on her best friend’s sofa. In between working as a harem waitress, going back to college and finding out her new boyfriend is engaged to her arch rival from high school, she’s still trying to figure it all out…and having the time of her life.

In Tanima Kazi’s debut novel How To Escape An Arranged Marriage In High Heels, she explores the apprehension and confusion that every Indian woman faces when it’s ‘that time.’ That time to get married, have children, and conform to society’s expectations. We had a chance to speak to the author about her upcoming novel (hitting Amazon, Nook and Create Space websites on May 15th) and get her thoughts on what it means to be a modern young Indian woman in this day age.

Where did you come up with the title?
Hahaha, I think I was about 18 years-old and I remember wanting some kind of road map on how to navigate my life. And I wondered why aren’t there any self-help books targeted towards confused, anxious, young, Indian women? So in my own way, I decided to create one.

Aaah, hence the plot and the title. What should readers expect from this novel?
It is a fun, light hearted comedy with under-currents of serious topics such as arranged marriage (obviously), financial independence and the importance of education, as well as friendships. Readers will hopefully feel like they are reading their best friend’s journal.

How much do you have in common with Maya Khan, the main character?
More than I care to admit. Maya is a very emotional character. Every thought and feeling flies out of her mouth with little or no filter. I often have the same dilemma and there have been more than one occasion, where I have been mortified with the results. I do admire Maya’s fearlessness. There are certain situations that she confronts and deals with head-on, that I probably could not do. Actually, there is a bit of me in every character within the novel. It’s difficult to write genuinely without infusing parts of yourself into the writing.

Any advice for young women who may be in a situation similar to Maya?
Oh gosh. Probably to go seek advice from someone smarter than me…if you’re truly desperate here are a few tips I have found helpful. Education is key. You cannot make an informed decision about your future, without being a well-rounded individual. It’s important to go to College and allow yourself that time to develop your personality. When I was younger, I would read up on women that I admired and emulate the qualities that I found admirable. I would emulate those qualities until they became second nature and ingrained within my own personality.

Who are some of the women you admire?
My top 3. Mira Nair for her artistry and story-telling. She’s absolutely brilliant. Audrey Hepburn for her grace and radiance. Marian Keyes because she is so freakin’ funny, I adore every word that she writes.

How should a modern, young, Indian woman conduct herself in this day and age?
Well I think kindness and honesty are two key ingredients that every young Indian woman should have in her arsenal. Armed with that, she can navigate through any situation on her own terms.

How do you think Western audiences will react to your book? Or do you even foresee them picking it up?
Well I hope everyone picks up this book. I definitely wrote this book with the intention of sharing it with the world and not hiding it in my bottom desk drawer. I think Maya is an extremely relatable character for all genders and races. She is unsure of herself, she is trying to figure out what makes her happy, she is trying to survive on her own financially and she is taking steps to become a better person. There are universal themes in the novel that I hope appeal to a wide range of people.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope it makes them laugh. I hope they are genuinely entertained and transported into Maya’s world for a few brief moments. 

How To Escape An Arranged Marriage In High Heels will be published from 15th May 2015. 

Find out more about Tanima Kazi and her literature here.

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