I think The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami should be the winner of the Canada Reads contest beginning in less than a week.
The book takes place in India and the author makes the city on the Bay of Bengal where the story is set come alive for readers with her haunting and often humorous prose.
Sripathi Rao, the main character is about my age. He’s trying to be a good son at the same time as he’s trying to be a good grandfather and he’s having a hard time adjusting to the fact that his roles as a husband and father have changed dramatically . His two children anger and frustrate him because neither is following the path he thought their lives should take.
Who is the hero in The Hero’s Walk? There are plenty of candidates.
Sripathi’s best friend Raju who must decide whether or not to take his severely handicapped daughter’s life before he dies because there is no one else to care for her.
Sripathi’s daughter Maya who surmounts many odds to build a successful academic career and has the bravery to flaunt tradition and family expectations to be with the man she loves.
Sripathi’s son Arun who is a political and environmental activist and envisions a better future for India, one he feels responsible to work toward.
Sripathi’s grandaughter Nadana who must leave her home in Canada to start a new life in India with her grandparents after her mother and father are killed in a car accident.
Sripathi’s wife Nirmala who refuses to play the role of submissive wife and daughter-in-law. She starts her own business and continues to have a relationship with her daughter even though her husband refuses to.
Sripathi who eventually realizes that while moral integrity has value, when you stick too rigorously to your pre-determined ideas of what is right and wrong you can be very unhappy and ruin your relationships with the people you love the most.
The Hero’s Walk is about a family in India but it could be about a family anywhere. The issues and problems Sripathi’s family faces are ones we can all identify with in some way.
Note: I read this book while we were in Costa Rica. We went on a night hike to watch sea turtles nesting. In The Hero’s Walk Sripathi and his son Arun watch sea turtles digging nests and laying eggs one night and it brings about a change in their relationship.