The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka

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At the age of fourteen, Lakshmi leaves behind her childhood among the mango trees of Ceylon for married life across the ocean in Malaysia, and soon finds herself struggling to raise a family in a country that is, by turns, unyielding and amazing, brutal and beautiful. Giving birth to a child every year until she is nineteen, Lakshmi becomes a formidable matriarch, determined to secure a better life for her daughters and sons. From the Japanese occupation during World War II to the torture of watching some of her children succumb to life’s most terrible temptations, she rises to face every new challenge with almost mythic strength. Dreamy and lyrical, told in the alternating voices of the men and women of this amazing family, The Rice Mother gorgeously evokes a world where small pleasures offset unimaginable horrors, where ghosts and gods walk hand in hand. It marks the triumphant debut of a writer whose wisdom and soaring prose will touch readers, especially women, the world over.


About Rani Manicka

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Rani Manicka was born and educated in Malaysia. The Rice Mother is her first novel.
Published July 27, 2004 by Penguin Books. 468 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Rice Mother

The Guardian

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The ensuing quest leads him back to the India of his childhood, and a society murder that gripped the nation 40 years earlier: a faithless playboy - the companion of many a lonely officer's wife - shot dead in a crime of passion.

Sep 22 2002 | Read Full Review of The Rice Mother

The Guardian

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When Lakshmi's daughter is also captured by the Japanese, Manicka moves swiftly from the scene of ordinary family life, with the water spitting in the frying spinach and the children pounding flour, to the moment of horror as the soldiers burst into the house and drag the girl away.

Oct 12 2002 | Read Full Review of The Rice Mother

Publishers Weekly

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There is a period of contented family life before WWII and the Japanese occupation of Malaysia, during which Lakshmi's eldest and most beautiful daughter, Mohini, is abducted and killed by Japanese soldiers.

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Book Reporter

Promised in marriage at 14, Lakshmi must leave the comfort of her village in Ceylon with her new husband.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Rice Mother

Time Magazine

Lakshmi grows into a formidable matriarch, towering over her scattered, resentful clan, eventually becoming the rice mother of the title: "The Giver of Life … In Bali her spirit lives in effigies made out of sheaves of rice … She is the keeper of dreams.

Mar 03 2003 | Read Full Review of The Rice Mother

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