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The Groom to Have Been

3.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  157 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
A love story inspired by The Age of Innocence, about a young man and woman thwarted by tradition and the fears of a world suddenly defined by tragedy

Just as Nasr, a young man with a vibrant professional and social life in New York, begins to prepare for the arranged marriage he hopes will appease his Indian Muslim family and assure him a union as happy as his parents’, he
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 322)
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Excellent book! It perfectly captures the experience of being a first-generation, Indian descent N. American Muslim grappling with the arranged marriage process/how to meet your spouse. The wedding traditions, the arranged marriage stuff -- it's very accurate and insightful. At one point in the novel, one character wants the other to know that she is over him, so she dances with him in public at a wedding. Because it's only acceptable in the community to dance together so publicly with someone y ...more
Aug 19, 2008 Alex rated it liked it
Warning! Deceptive cover text. While, yes, there is a Jameela who might or might not be the true love of the main character, this is in fact a remarkably adroit look at the miscellaneous and specific conflicting instincts of a close-knit Canadian Indian community in the wake of september 11th. A bit long-winded at times, there's enough smart observation and genuine emotion to carry you through. In the end, it's a refreshingly frank, mature look at romance through the lens of a community too ofte ...more
Feb 28, 2009 Zee rated it did not like it
It is excruciating for me to even pick up the book and continued where I left the night before.And for the very first time ever,I actually returned a book with not even an ounce of desire to complete it.Yes,is it that bad and maybe that's the reason why this book is not on the bestseller's list.So whatever you do,DO NOT lift this book off that shelf even if it beckons you to pick it up.Trust me it's not worth the time.
Jun 01, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
I so like this wonderful novel. Perhaps that's because The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite books and Alam's book tells a similar story in but in a different key. There is so much here to ponder. Can an arranged marriage offer just as much chance of contentment as a "love match"? How do children of immigrants relate to their parents' homeland and the country where they themselves have grown up? How do you blend two very different cultures together? The characters in the novel explain, deba ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Jamila rated it did not like it
I desperately wanted to like this book, I really did. The premise sounded promising: A Indian Muslim man tries to find love and happiness via the age-old tradition of arranged marriage, set against the backdrop of a post-9/11 NYC. But the book was slow and plagued by long, pseudo-intellectual discussions between the two main characters. It seemed to take itself entirely too seriously, the book alternated between fluffy chick-lit and heavy handed social commentary. At times, it seemed to mock the ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Tarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I don't normally put a book down. In fact, I hardly ever do (I actually can't think of one example). It's not that this book was bad by any stretch, but I had a hard time caring about what would happen next. In fact, there was a lot of *not* happening going on in this book. As a retelling of The Age of Innocence, this should have been an easy winner for me, but the book seemed mired in detail that didn't in any way seem to propel the plot forward. While Age of Innocence itself builds on the hear ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Melisa rated it liked it
This was, quite honestly, a book I grabbed due to its lovely cover. Lots of big themes here: love, arranged marriage, exile, and 9/11. It took me a while to warm up to Nasr, the main character, and even when it was clear how the story would end, I couldn't help but keep reading as I really did develop sympathy for all the primary characters, much to my surprise.
Nov 30, 2008 Jenn rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book; the themes resonated with me on multiple levels.

I identified with Nasr's (and his fellow 2nd generation peers) navigation of the immigrant experience - an individual's choice to blend old traditions and new ways, sometimes conflicting desires to honor your family while also charting your own course, and even his realization after "growing up" that there is more wisdom in the old ways that one can be quick to dismiss as a youth trying somewhat desperately to f
Jessica Jamison
Feb 12, 2010 Jessica Jamison is currently reading it
I’d learned that I don’t know much Hindi. I’ve read this book sitting next to my computer so I can translate. Than and a couple text messages to a friend of mine makes sure I don’t miss any jokes.
Don’t get me wrong. You can follow the story without any language help but I’ve always liked knowing everything that’s going on and what’s being passed around the dinner table. Dal means lentil!
That’s another thing I’ve learned. Food always seems to be present. Nasr (the main character) is looking for
Apr 11, 2009 Kisha rated it liked it
I think I want to give this book 3.5 stars. But I am not sure about my feelings here.

The story had surprising depth. (At first I thought it would be a typical love story; It is not.) In many ways it is a real love story--one that you might find in the world we all occupy.Even though the main character (a man) is going through with an arranged marriage, his world, his love seem like something tangible and real, unlike the love found in many popular books written today. (so-called chick-lit, name
Carly Thompson
The Groom to Have Been is a wonderfully sensitive novel about the Indian/Pakistan Muslim community in North America following 9/11. The novel is also a modern version of one of my favorite novels, The Age of Innocence. Nasr, the main character, is a Canadian living in New York City whose parents are immigrants from Lucknow, India. In his late 20s, he decides to enter into an arranged marriage and after years of searching he decides to marry Farah. As Nasr prepares for his traditional wedding cer ...more
Nov 01, 2010 Kirin rated it liked it
so i don't think this book had a point, but i kept reading to see how it would end, and wasn't excited or disappointd, so if you are an abcd and read a bunch of these- read it, if you don't know what an abcd is don't waste your time.

one of the reasons i kept reading was it hit certain things so perfectly you couldnt help chuckling..i.e. the characters will go out and drink, but refuse to eat the pork. the parents ar worried about the food being served at the wedding, not where salat will be off
Allison  Junkans
Dec 04, 2014 Allison Junkans rated it it was ok
The last 150 pages were really interesting and I was very curious to see what happened. Unfortunately, the first 240 were very slow. The idea of the book is good - an Indian Muslim man living in America post September 11th. You learn about the discrimination he and friends faced. The book also focuses on arranged marriages. I had a hard time reading because the author assumes the reader knows all the Muslim and Indian words and customs. A glossary at the end of the book would be a solution. I fe ...more
Feb 21, 2009 Nicole rated it liked it
This book was not what I was expecting. Despite the fact that I new that it was touching on the Muslim faith and immigration, I really expected (naively) that it would be resolved as a typical North American novel.
It was hard for me to relate to the plot of the book and although at times I was shaking my head in disbelief and dread at Nasr's and Jameela's actions, I was extremely drawn to their relationship.
I did not always agree with Nasr's views toward Jameela, as he was so quick to think the
Nov 17, 2009 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Though I enjoyed this book, it does not stand out as a phenomenal book that I would recommend rereading. I found Nasr to be a complicated yet still enjoyable protagonist. (I would have been curious, however, to see this story with a female protagonist, or from a first-person narrative.) The plot unravels slowly but it's often vague, hidden in a tiny paragraph or stuck in a metaphor.

I think this book benefits much more from being read aloud; I had the fortune of being able to meet Saher Alam at a
Catherine Woodman
I have some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really liked the focus on Canadian Muslims, the younger generation trying to stay with at least some of their parents customs but really struggling with it, and getting into promises that become increasingly hard to keep. The writing was good, the characters were engaging, but for some reason,w hile the story was wound up very well, I jsut kind of lost steam with the book in the middle, even though it is a quick read, and I read it o ...more
Jun 28, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Carrie
This was a good story with a lot of background and insight into the arranged marriage tradition. While I had been aware that the Hindi and Muslim Indian cultures were different, most of the assimilation reading I had done was from the Hindu culture. The novel takes place in the aftermath of 9/11, and made me realize how difficult life was for our Muslim citizens during that time and since. All in all, I think this was an excellent first novel, and I look forward to more from this author.
Sep 11, 2008 Julianne rated it liked it
I can't say this book was spectacular, but I really enjoyed reading it. It definitely gave me a lot to think about as it is definitely a POV and subject matter that are foreign to me. I was worried that it would be treated tritely, but the author rose above and wrote a multi-faceted love story unlike most. It also gave an interesting face to the realities and requirements of marriage. Curious and intriguing, definitely recommendable.
Jan 12, 2009 Danika rated it it was ok
The pacing of this novel was WAY off. Much longer/slower than need be. I almost didn't finish it for that reason. Despite that, it was an interesting look at arranged marriage in Indian culture from several perspectives. Set mostly in Montreal and NYC with Sept 11th in the middle of the narrative. Interesting in that this is a Muslim-Indian scenario, not Hindu. One other complaint was that the book ended with a question. That bugged me.
May 31, 2009 Brenda rated it it was ok
As a rule, I love books written about Indians assimilating in the west, but this one sort of dragged for me. The angst felt by Nasr over so easily bridging the two cultures is over-done. And in places, the true issues devolved into a drawn out internal monologue about guilt. It got old about a quarter of the way in and never really recovered my interest. The ending was too pat as well. Just OK for me.
Elaine Garmon
Jul 21, 2013 Elaine Garmon rated it really liked it
Loved learning about the arranged marriage customs and ceremonial differences in the Muslim culture. This book was beautifully sculpted and I got to turning the pages so quickly at the end that I had to go back and reread so I wouldn't miss the art of the rendering of its completion. Fascinating perspective on the marital relationship intertwined with personal goals and familial/ cultural pressures.
I found the main character to be an unreliable narrator, possibly because I do not know enough about his culture. This made it difficult to determine what I thought & felt about the characters, the siutations... the novel.

In my current state of being, I ultimately found it depressing, though I do not believe that is the expected response.

I would love to discuss this book with someone.
Wow, finally finished this thing. It provides some insightful cultural context regarding South Asian Muslim-Americans, but it's very long-winded and I think that the title is a bit deceptive in that the groom in question does not feel like the center of the story. The novel is more about the larger issues of identity, customs, and family in the wake of 9/11.
Jul 28, 2008 Hara rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A moving story of a young Muslim Indian man who reluctantly enters into the rituals and traditions surrounding arranged marriage. The book deals with issues of identity, leaving one's homeland, assimilation, belonging, and what it means to be a North American Muslim of East Asian descent in the post 9/11 world.
Oct 27, 2008 Alison rated it it was ok
There were interesting aspects to this book- the post 9/11 experience for Muslim Americans, choosing and arranged marriage in a modern world- but there were a lot of things I did not like. It was too long and the characters and events took too long to develop. All in all it could have used some serious editing.
Oct 26, 2008 Renee rated it really liked it
Story of a young Indian man whose life is steeped in thick culture, tradition (to a point of suffocation), and ultimately the acceptance of unrequited love. This book is set in NYC, Montreal with the back drop of September 11th and all it means to be an Indian in the North America and Canada.
Dec 08, 2008 Karen added it
goes on a bit too long, but interesting cultural context. i'll be glad to be done with it soon. should have spent my time on "the white tiger" instead as this felt rather shallow by the end. didn't cover much more than marraige customs and provided very limited character development.
Feb 02, 2009 Lauren rated it liked it
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars - parts of it were really interesting and engaging but I had difficulty with the long-winded ideological discussions. Still, the author was skilled at making you feel a part of the intricacies of another culture and religion.
Nov 05, 2013 Graciela rated it liked it
A long winded but well written novel about Indian Muslim society, their traditions regarding marriage and the different degree of religious observance among the community. All this is told in the wake of 9/11. Great use of words but a bit convoluted.
Sep 22, 2009 Tracy rated it really liked it
I found this book very interesting. I had never really thought too much about arranged marriage or how it worked in today's world. This book really took a look at how young indian people in canada and the states live thier lives.
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“He came to believe that this was the very sort of thing that happened when you let yourself get caught in one culture's insistence that love ought to be like this or that. The key for people like him, he ultimately concluded, in this as in most matters, was to be nimble. Your privilege as an immigrant was to pick and choose your inheritance, maintain what suited you and participate merely to the extent of your patience and interest. It was not in your nature to align with one side fully, and so you couldn't help but make a life that was both apart and among. You didn't make one choice and stick with it but, rather, hundreds of minor choices with which you created a unique path through the corridors of old traditions and the avenues of the new. And you cultivated this dividedness because you carried always the imprint of that first move -- the decision to leave home. Indeed, this initiating choice, more than anything, was your true inheritance.” 3 likes
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