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The Mango Season

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From the acclaimed author of A Breath of Fresh Air, this beautiful novel takes us to modern India during the height of the summer’s mango season. Heat, passion, and controversy explode as a woman is forced to decide between romance and tradition.

Every young Indian leaving the homeland for the United States is given the following orders by their parents: Don’t eat any cow (It’s still sacred!), don’t go out too much, save (and save, and save) your money, and most important, do not marry a foreigner. Priya Rao left India when she was twenty to study in the U.S., and she’s never been back. Now, seven years later, she’s out of excuses. She has to return and give her family the news: She’s engaged to Nick Collins, a kind, loving American man. It’s going to break their hearts.

Returning to India is an overwhelming experience for Priya. When she was growing up, summer was all about mangoes—ripe, sweet mangoes, bursting with juices that dripped down your chin, hands, and neck. But after years away, she sweats as if she’s never been through an Indian summer before. Everything looks dirtier than she remembered. And things that used to seem natural (a buffalo strolling down a newly laid asphalt road, for example) now feel totally chaotic.

But Priya’s relatives remain the same. Her mother and father insist that it’s time they arranged her marriage to a “nice Indian boy.” Her extended family talks of nothing but marriage—particularly the marriage of her uncle Anand, which still has them reeling. Not only did Anand marry a woman from another Indian state, but he also married for love. Happiness and love are not the point of her grandparents’ or her parents’ union. In her family’s rule book, duty is at the top of the list.

Just as Priya begins to feel she can’t possibly tell her family that she’s engaged to an American, a secret is revealed that leaves her stunned and off-balance. Now she is forced to choose between the love of her family and Nick, the love of her life.

As sharp and intoxicating as sugarcane juice bought fresh from a market cart, The Mango Season is a delightful trip into the heart and soul of both contemporary India and a woman on the edge of a profound life change.

229 pages, Paperback

First published June 3, 2003

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About the author

Amulya Malladi

11 books555 followers
Amulya Malladi is the bestselling author of eight novels, including The Copenhagen Affair, A House for Happy Mothers, and The Mango Season. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She won a screenwriting award for her work on Ø (Island), a Danish series that aired on Amazon Prime Global and Studio Canal+. Currently living in California, she is a Danish citizen who was born and raised in India.


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 437 reviews
126 reviews97 followers
August 17, 2018

It is great story beautifully told. The upper caste South Indian girl goes to the US to study, and there she falls in love with an American man. It is not the kind of love that her parents back in India would accept. Being an upper caste Brahmin, she should only marry another Brahmin, anything else would be a scandal. And if their son-in-law happens to be an American that would be even more than a scandal. Such is grip of caste in India.

So that is the plot. The girl here is Priya, and the American guy is Nick.

What is so interesting about their love story is that they do not have any problem with each other. They are happily in love– (and that is UNIQUE in itself). All Priya's problems emanate from her family. She instinctively knew that she should not talk about her lover to her parents. She knew they would fiercely oppose her.

Even though the parents know nothing about her life in the US, they badger her with names of potential suitors. Somehow she manages to dodge them. Parents does everything in goodwill, knowing well that in an Indian marriage market, every extra year in the girl's age reduces her value and salability.

What is interesting about the book is how each chapter begins. It begins with a recipe of south-Indian dishes. The book has some good recipes in case one likes Indian food. More importantly, she makes good use of food into the deeper structure of the book. For instance, when the chapter deals with warm, cozy, home-like stuff, the food and its way of cooking reflect that mood; on the other hand, when there are conflicts and anger involved, the cooking and ingredients used mirror the corresponding atmosphere – the hot, seething red chilies, the sizzling sound of oil.

Chapter after chapter, the tension keeps on increasing, so does the nature of recipes. Toward the finale– the last encounter with the parents turns 'extra spicy and hot.' The last chapter, without divulging too much, contains the greatest shock for the parents as well as the readers. The writer throughout the story hides something important about her fiance– Nick.

The story rings true. The characters are utterly believable and so is the situation. Her parents are not typical Indian parents in the sense that they send their daughter to study abroad, and finally, give in to her wish of marrying someone she loves. It is true that many parents follow caste rules and do not let their children marry outside caste and such restraints are far more severe on women, but Priya's parents are not among them. They intervene out of genuine concern and love for their daughter. And finally, they relent when they see that their daughter would not listen to them, and that she has really made up her mind.

I see how often Indian parents get a backlash for enforcing their wishes on their children, as does the culture of arranged marriages in India. Parents do that everywhere, although the manner of doing so is different. The greater the difference between the lovers, the more extreme is the opposition to their union. In India, this opposition is vulgar, at times violent, and right in your face; in the West, it is subtler, nuanced, unseeable, layered, but always at work.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,275 reviews556 followers
May 12, 2018
Honestly, I could hardly finish this one. I'm the daughter of an immigrant parentage (completely different cultural ideals and objectives from mine on far more than just the marriage market issue) and owning nearly 180 degrees opposition to a great majority of the pursuits I desired, and which I did early and later pursued (left home when I was just shy of 17 and never spent a night on the street either). So I find it extremely difficult to look at things through this narrator's "eyes". She complains about her nag mother and compliant father endlessly. And yet doesn't have enough exposed here of her own "spirit" or "will" or real identity (plus she is so status quo prone in actions) to compose some place of intersect between her life in America and her Indian identity. Plus she is over 25 and with advanced degrees holding options galore? That is HER job to complete that intersect and have the best outcome occur for the realities of both "sides". Somehow. It's not all that hard with some clear speech and drawing of lines. And especially not consistently living in the "feelings" arena- as she does here. It just makes it worse for the parents, IMHO.

This is so simplistic too and the plot is like a old early rock tune in which the same lyric and sequence of notes are just repeated over and over again. It's sweet and mushy in sometimes poetic type descriptions. All about a mood? And I've read tons of India placed books, so it's not what I expected? They usually carry so much more depth than this one did. I felt that it was truly like a 6 inch deep pond.

Actually, I do not care for mangoes either. The ones I have come across are way too sweet and pulpy for me.
Profile Image for Alina.
755 reviews253 followers
February 3, 2017
A catchy and quick story about Indian traditions and rules, sprinkled with humor.

After seven years away from India, Priya sees everything with different eyes: the biases of her family, the scorching heat, the filth in the streets, the traffic.
But, despite this, she hasn't freed herself completely of her upbringing and hardly finds the courage to tell her family about her American fiancee. I sometimes was irritated with Priya's childish reactions and outbursts of fury, failing to present her case and decisions in a calm and mature way.

As a minus, I would have liked Indian words to be translated/explained at bottom of the page. I understand the idea of keeping the original word and, even if often the meaning can be inferred, sometimes small additions are necessary and interesting.
As a plus, the Indian cooking recipes at the start of each chapter were a nice addition.
Profile Image for A.
51 reviews16 followers
August 4, 2009
Indian girl moves to America. Falls in love with an American boy. Worries that her traditional family won’t accept him. Those three sentences pretty much sum up the entirety of this book, which had promise but fails to deliver in terms of creating three-dimensional characters. The first quarter of this novel consists of Priya, the main character, complaining about what a horrible person her mother is. The rest of the story gives her family similar treatment, reducing them to a collection of stereotypes. While these characterizations likely reveal a measure of truth about traditional Indian society, it would have been nice to see other dimensions of their personalities.

While I certainly understand where Priya is coming from – who wouldn’t be appalled by her grandfather’s belief that all white people are thieves? – I nevertheless felt that the way she dealt with her family was hypocritical at best. She criticizes her cousin for allowing their family to treat his wife poorly (because she is North Indian, not “their Indian”) yet doesn’t have the guts to tell her mother that she is engaged until after her mother arranges for her to meet a “nice Indian boy” to marry. Indeed, it’s not until after this “nice boy’s” family proposes marriage that Priya finally comes clean. Priya’s angst illuminated the pressures Indian women can face when torn between a traditional culture and Western ideals, yet with 229 pages of storyline one would have expected the author to incorporate more of a plot into the novel. Priya’s emails with her fiance are stilted and, at least to my American ears, it would have been helpful if the author had included a glossary at the end of the book to explain all of the Indian terms she incorporates into the narrative.
Profile Image for Andreea.
384 reviews243 followers
March 20, 2015
When I was recommended this book, I was told that it has a 'wow' ending. Reading the book, I started to fear what kind of 'wow' the person was referring to, because I had my own wish on how this book should have ended. And I was relieved when I got to the end and my fears were not fulfilled. The Mango Season is just another book about the Indian traditions, the rules of the family, the arranged marriages and the expectations that parents have from their children. Except that this book is not your regular book about all that. Unlike any other book on the subject that I have read, it's written with a dash o humor, even in some painful situations. But Amulya Malladi knew exactly how to balance humor, emotion and strength, which I deeply liked. What I was surprised to find in this novel was the meanness of the women in the family. Unlike men in other novels about the Orient traditions, these men were quite nice and lovable. I do recommend it, it's a true page turner.
Profile Image for Andreea Chiuaru.
Author 1 book762 followers
August 18, 2019
Dacă „Anotimpul fructelor de mango” ar fi fost o comedie romantică produsă de Netflix la care să te uiți în weekend, ar fi fost perfectă. Eu însă sunt incapabilă să închid ochii la cărți mai slăbuțe și să motivez prin „e o carte de weekend”.

Am motivat mai mult pe blog: https://blogdeidei.ro/anotimpul-fruct...
Profile Image for Rachel.
2 reviews1 follower
November 3, 2007
In reading The Mango Season, I was introduced to a country and culture that I knew nothing about. You are immediately drawn into the culture of India, and the values of Indian family life. It is Mango Season and Priya returns home to tell her parents of news she knows they won’t want to hear. She has become engaged to everything that they are against. Living in the United States, Priya meets an American man and falls in love. Returning home to face the sweltering summer heat, the mango harvest, and her family has consequences that she is far from prepared for. She becomes taken aback by her lack of ability to accept the cultural things that were once second nature to her.
This book is written with such vivid detail that it automatically becomes a page-turner. I couldn’t put it down for even a minute once I got into it. The characters are so interesting and the events that are natural to their society seem so foreign to me, making it all the more interesting. While reading I could smell the mangos and hear each character’s voices. “My lips twitched into a smile as I remembered how the remnants of mango pickle lay on discarded plates of food after a meal- the core of the mango stones lay in bloody red oil like dead and mutilated soldiers in a battlefield of yogurt and rice. I used to think it was barbaric, eating the pickle with bare hands, tearing into the fleshy part of the mango that stuck to the core. Now I thought it was exotic…” Page 66
Profile Image for Saikhnaa Ch.
134 reviews24 followers
February 3, 2017
Уул нь улс орнуудын ёс заншил, мэдлэгээ нэмэх үүднээс орон орны тухай ном унших санаатай. Яагаад ч юм Энэтхэгийн тухай ном арай их уншаад байх юм. Энэ ёстой хөөрхөн, хошин ном. Дунд сургуулиа төгсөөд Америкт боловсрол эзэмшихээр очоод, тэндээ ажиллаж, найз залуутай болж суурьшсан Энэтхэг охин яг Мангоны улирлаар амралтаараа гэртээ ирж байгаа тухай. Ээж нь гэж яг энэтхэг кинон дээр гардаг сонгодог, үглээ, яршигтай, үнэхээр инээдтэй авгай. Яаж ийгээд охиноо Энэтхэг хүнтэй гэрлүүлчих санаатай. Тийм ч урт биш, бас мангонд дуртай бол манго бүхий хоол ундны жортой, ёстой хөөрхөн, бас хөгжилтэй харилцан яриатай ном
Profile Image for Preeti.
210 reviews160 followers
March 10, 2009
The entire book takes place within a span of a few days (2-4), but is full of detail. The sights and sounds of India, even the smell and taste of mangoes, are abundantly described. It throws you right back to the Homeland.

The story is about a woman who, having grown up in India, has lived in the U.S. for the past 7 seven years (school, then career) and finally goes back for the express purpose of telling her family that she is engaged to and wants to marry an American. O_O

Amulya Malladi does a great job of depicting Priya's (the main character) extended conservative family. The archaic views of the older generation contrast sharply with Priya's views - after all, she was heavily influenced by America's 'evil culture and wily ways.'

Half the time, I was getting so horribly disgusted at the narrow-minded views expressed by the older adults of the family, and I could completely identify with Priya's feelings - of being treated like a 5-year-old even though she was 27 and had been on her own for such a long time.

Not only is the book great, but the (almost) ending packs a punch too. It was delightfully hilarious.

[Sidenote: Also includes a few good South Indian recipes... If you're into that whole cooking thing.]
Profile Image for Belinda.
1,331 reviews180 followers
January 3, 2019
4,25 sterren - het zal je maar gebeuren, na 7 jaar studie terug op vakantie naar familie en ze willen je uithuwelijken! De vermenging van een nieuwe manier van leven verweven met de oude tradities van het land van herkomst. En land vol met mango bomen, kleur en traditie. Zal deze jonge vrouw haar eigen keuzes maken of ten onder gaan aan de druk van haar familie? 📗📕📖
Profile Image for Rehan Abd Jamil.
626 reviews30 followers
March 31, 2018
I have found another favourite author. This is indeed a very nice story. Love, family values, food, and lots of humour made it special..
Profile Image for Ahtims.
1,469 reviews125 followers
November 2, 2010
There are some books, which when once started are difficult to put down again. And lo behold, if you start reading such books late night. This happened to me yesterday. I started on Mango Season around 11 pm, reluctantly went to bed at 12.30, day dreamt about the characters while at work ( luckily or unluckily, today was a very busy day), read a bit more at lunch time, and finally finished it off at a stretch at around 9 pm today. My son had an inkling that I liked the book a bit too much, when he found that I was neglecting to teach him or supervise his homework ( at our home , it is the otherway round. Most of the times it is my son who reminds me that he needs to be taught, unless he is at the computer)
I just devoured this book - like a juicy, ripe, luscious mango. I could smell, see and taste the flavors of South Indian life. I could identify with most people. I feel south Indians would identify with this book, I dont know about other people. I just went through a few of the reviews in Good Reads and to my surprise that many people had given it only one or two stars. I would really recommend this book to anyone; but then tastes are diverse.
Profile Image for arabella .
33 reviews4 followers
February 15, 2016
What a horrible book. As a Pakistani woman, I'm always searching for a read with a great brown female protagonist who doesn't abandon her culture, or criticize the life that she once lived, or the customs that she no longer lives within. However, I have yet to find such a book. Some come closer than others but this was by far one of the most disappointing books I have ever read in my life. Not only does Priya spend more or less the ENTIRE book complaining about her mother and her family, but she also judges everything with the embarrassing insecurity of someone who has yet to find the balance between how they were raised, and who they are now, someone who can't accept their culture. Not only the terrible characters, but the ending was bogus and predictable. Don't bother wasting your time on this one.
Profile Image for Yomana.
5 reviews
August 1, 2012
The story basically evolves around the indian tradition and how it is a must for girls to save their money for the purpose of dowry when they get married later in future. It was also about the orthodox people who were very cautious about their status as Brahmins and getting married to someone out of their caste was forbidden.
Profile Image for Robbin Melton.
233 reviews4 followers
August 22, 2012
Wow. This book...initially I didn't like the author's writing style or the flow of the story, but I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. Slowly, the story about an Indian-born woman who returns home from America after seven years unfolds. Struggling to acclimate to her native land which she now sees through American eyes, Priya is thrust into talks of arranged marriage. The catch, however, is Priya has a fiance with whom she's lived for two years...ubeknownst to her family. So, it takes Priya more than half the book to reveal this secret to her family who strongly believes she can and will marry a nice Indian boy...and that's where the real story begins.
On the side are Priya's aunt whose own parents never fail to remind her what a disappointment she is for her inability to land a husband after meeting more than 60 potential husbands; a sister-in-law who thinks she's better than the family she married into; and the intertwined and complicated dynamics between multi-generational men and women of Priya's family.
This book literally has two moments in which my heart stopped and I love that the author leaves you wanting for more, all the way down to the book's very last sentence.
This starts slow, but it is so worth it if you stick with it. I highly recommend this book! It's not your typical story about arranged marriages and Priya is not your typical girl.
Profile Image for Maddie.
219 reviews31 followers
September 13, 2014
Priya is a woman born and raised in India, who for the past 7 years of her life has lived in the US while attending university and working. While there she falls in love and gets engaged to an American man, despite knowing her family would be completely devasted by that. Now, Priya travels back to India to spend a week with her family and inform them about her upcoming marriage.

This is a cute and humorous novel, full of very 'senzorial' descriptions of India and Indian food.

Here is my full video-review of this book:
Profile Image for Aditi Barve.
21 reviews11 followers
February 27, 2018
This is a book written for white people. What with the recipes and the exotic-sounding words.

Priya (the protagonist) comes across as whiny, and prissy. Her entire family is boorish, and small-minded, and racist, except her. She's redeemed because she has seen the light by living in "the America" and being engaged to a white man.

This is what I learned from this book.
Indian mothers want their sons marry rich girls and get a handsome dowry, and their daughters to marry a boy of their choice. Marriages are arranged. If you marry a person who is not in your caste, you get ostracized. Your worth in heaven is measured by the number of heirs you produce. If you are 27 years old, you're over the hill, and may as well be a spinster all your life.

After a few chapters I got annoyed by the litany of complaints, and never finished the book. And thus we all lived happily ever after.

P.S.: I'm Indian btw.
Profile Image for Subashini.
33 reviews1 follower
November 25, 2012
The story is about Priya, who comes from a strict Telugu Brahmin family & her struggles to convey to the family regarding her American boyfriend. It’s a fast and easy read. I shall add it’s mouth-watering too with a recipe at the end of each chapter, especially using mangoes which are my favourite fruit. It brings back sweet memories when reading The Mango Season, the fight between Priya & Nate for HAPPINESS reminds me the fight between my sister & I had for the same HAPPINESS, the sticky stone at the centre of the mango. It was flimsy at times but I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Like the mango fruits which are succulent, sweet, sour, & bitter, Amulya Malladi’s The Mango Season is a mix little package of all of it.
Profile Image for Stjernekaster.
12 reviews
July 13, 2014
I read this book in 1 day, needless to say I enjoyed reading it. First of all I thought that the recipes before each chapter was a lovely idea to include, because it brought me into the world of the food-culture and made it easier to imagine the world as a realistic one. The characters were great, and most of all the description of the differences between the two cultures was what I liked the most. I didn't know much about the Indian culture before reading this, but now post-reading I find myself much more informed, which I appreciate a lot. It has given me a much better insight and understanding.
It was well written, with good characters, interesting plot, and personal gain, which is why I give it 4 stars.
Profile Image for Amy Sheridan.
51 reviews9 followers
August 18, 2011
If you had any doubt over whether or not every culture has dysfunctional families, this book will prove it.

It was a sweet book, my only problems with it were:

1) the author assumes that the reader has some understanding of Indian culture and phrases - if you're a person like me, with little to no understanding of it, there are some phrases and parts that can be a bit distracting.

2) The formatting of the narrator's emails to her fiance, being in all caps, was kind of annoying.

Other than that I liked it and if the author decided to write a sequel with Priya's family finally meeting Nick, I would not hesitate to pick it up.
Profile Image for Oana.
432 reviews45 followers
November 25, 2016
Such a nice read! I am not very familiar with the Indian culture and reading this book was eye-opening. Priya's story, her fear of telling her parents about her American fiancee by returning in India after 7 years in the US is full of flavor and humor. And the ending is sooooo good! Great story.
Profile Image for Shasni Bala.
37 reviews10 followers
September 13, 2017
Nice story, emotional too i must say. I've never read books written by indian in particular, for these book it's Amulya Malladi. I'm still not quite sure if i like her way of writting, probably i need to explore more of her books soon. Even though for me the beginning of the story was abit boring but then it hit off with so much anticipation of what will happen next. For those who are foreign to indian culture might find this book informative and may raise eyebrows of how critical Indian can be in preserving their culture. But, do bare in mind these days indians are not as critical as those times (though they are still some percentage of them are critical but it's better than before). It's a simple book to read and the ending was not what i've have expected. I would recommend this book, so why not buckle up and take a quit trip to the land of spices.
Profile Image for Dianais.
142 reviews58 followers
April 21, 2017
I enjoyed this quick read so much until the last pages when a small detail ruined it for me...made it seem forced and unnatural. Too bad...
Profile Image for Adriana.
917 reviews69 followers
June 4, 2017
Priya's visit home let me into a culture I know little about. She was apprehensive to tell her parents that she was engaged to an American. And as I learned more about her and her family her apprehension turned into panic. She could lose her family for someone she loves because they didn't believe Indians should marry anyone but Indians. I thought the story was very interesting. I couldn't believe how racist the family was and how set in their traditional ways. I felt for Priya because she loved her family so much.
Profile Image for Michelle Wegner.
Author 1 book24 followers
September 24, 2011
I love India. I've been there several times, and written a book with my husband about some of our friends there. I loved this book because of the "insiders perspective" into an Indian family's life. People in the U.S.A. are usually very surprised when they find out that arranged marriages are still very common in India. There are many beneficial, successful marriages done this way, and many that are not.

My favorite part of this book is where the author says, "India was not just a country you visited, it was a country that sank into your blood and stole part of you. As an insider all those years ago I couldn't see it, but now after several years of exile I could feel the texture of India. It was the people, the smell, the taste, the noise, the essence that dragged you in and kept you."

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves India, or wants to know more about the culture.
Profile Image for Nanya Srivastava.
146 reviews7 followers
March 30, 2017
The plot is very familiar--a girl from a conservative Hyderabadi family goes to the US, falls in love with a foreigner, returns to convince her family to accept the match. There's nothing 'new' in the story. However, this book was really hard to put down (I finished it in a day). Food, particularly mango, forms a very important part of the narrative. There are many bits which are funny, and many which are frustrating. The language is simple and the story is cliched, but the narrative keeps you hooked. A must-read if you've ever had to muster courage to tell your parents about the 'love of your life'.
Profile Image for Noemí.
107 reviews9 followers
February 27, 2014
Choque cultural y enfrentamientos familiares, pero todo bastante descafeinado. Se lee rápido y ya. Nada del otro mundo.
Profile Image for Raluca.
15 reviews19 followers
March 7, 2016
This book was so nice and easy to read. I couldn't put it down!
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