Arranged Marriage Trope in Contemporary Indian American Diaspora Romance Novels
Arranged marriage trope in contemporary Indian American diaspora romance novels with cognitive psychologist and author Sri Savita.
Arranged marriage trope in contemporary Indian American diaspora romance novels with cognitive psychologist and author Sri Savita.
Join the Conversation on Discord: https://www.patreon.com/ShelfLove
- Sign up for the email newsletter list | Website | Patreon | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
- Email: Andrea@shelflovepodcast.com
- Running Away With the Bride by Sophia Singh Sasson
- Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
- Marriage Game by Sara Desai
- The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
- The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale
Shaadi dot com performance by Awaaz Do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzwhcCeJ4lk
Guest: Sri Savita
Sri writes romance by night, and by day is a Cognitive Psychologist.
Forthcoming Short Story: "How to Find Your Footing in France," part of a Wordmakers New Year's Eve holiday anthology.
Hôtel d'Amour: A Sweet Romance Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BMXV9JG3/ref=x_gr_bb_kindle?caller=Goodreads&tag=x_gr_bb_kindle-20
Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast about romance novels and how they reflect, explore, challenge, and shape, desire. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci, and on this episode I'm joined by cognitive psychologist and author Sri Savita to discuss the arranged marriage trope in contemporary Indian American diaspora romance novels.
Hi, Sri. How are you doing?
Sri Savita: I'm great. How are you?
Andrea Martucci: Good. Thanks for being here today.
Sri Savita: Thank you for having me.
Andrea Martucci: Can you introduce yourself?
Sri Savita: I'm a cognitive psychologist by day. I research reading, memory and language. I'm a reader and writer of romance by night. I'm also Indian American. That's how I would identify myself. Specifically my family's Gujarati and Gujarati is a language that I specifically know from India.
But my parents immigrated here, so I was actually at their naturalization ceremony, I don't remember what grade I was in, but it was like 1990 something. We missed school.
We got to see that happen.
I saw what them studying for their citizenship test was like.
Andrea Martucci: Did you grow up speaking Gujarati?
Sri Savita: Yeah. So a little bit of switching back and forth. So my parents didn't necessarily force us to use it at home. I kind of now wish that they were more strict about that because I would have a better understanding of the language. But my mom's like, we did the best that we could. Thank you for your notes now as an adult. Good for us to know.
Yeah, so I would respond in whatever kind of came to me first, and a lot of times for us that would be English because, we're using that at school, we're using that with our friends. And I think when you're growing up it's taken a while and it's still a process to appreciate knowing this other language or thinking now that it's something interesting and cool that you know more about.
But For me, The arranged marriage trope is something that's interesting now that I'm reading more romance and seeing that come about across many different kinds of stories.
And also trying to figure out like what really connects with me from the Indian authors that I've read. And sometimes, you know, I think for me that question is about how it's presented because there will be certain ways that I think they get some things right and certain ways where I feel like, this is reducing an entire culture or reducing the practice or often presenting it as something that's a hundred percent negative.
And again, that's informed by my own lens. But I really just wanted to think about it because I'm really interested in the ways that people play with it in a more modern way. Cuz I think that that kind of idea exists in a lot of different ways. We're just not calling it that.
Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm. Let's put some boundaries around, like what is arranged marriage and how can we distinguish it from other tropes that can in some ways feel like arranged marriage, but are distinct. How would you define it and how would you differentiate it from other tropes?
Sri Savita: Yeah. So I think the two related tropes that I would think of are marriage of convenience or something like forced proximity. And I think that if you take arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, and forced proximity, yes there's this sort of external entity that's acting as fate's hand there.
But I think there's varying degrees to which the two people involved [00:03:00] in that relationship or whoever might be involved in that relationship, have control over how much that external entity is driving things.
So with arranged marriage, I think you'll see this as possibly a very large family, extended family, the sort of meddling auntie's trope that you'll see across a lot of different culture's stories, really, not just Indian. Or it might be something about society or class or, these other governing sorts of bodies.
I think with marriage of convenience, it's a little bit more that the agency is between the people in that relationship where you can make this work for your reasons. So they're playing around with that in a different way. And usually it may not even be something that another entity knows about, right? They're like pulling some sort of scheme or they're like, We need to fake that we're together for the public perception or the family's perception or friends' perception, whatever it might be. But it's really worked out between the people that are in that relationship.
And then for forced proximity, that's where you probably have a little bit of control depending on what that external entity is. But if you're thinking about stuck together in a snowstorm or some sort of natural disaster I guess you, you really can't do anything but go with fate's hand there, but it's not really bringing in this whole group of other people, right? There's not more voices or opinions in the mix in the same way.
So that's how I would differentiate those. I think sometimes in the stories, and we'll talk about this, that I've read, I think that sometimes that arranged marriage trope can morph into one of the other two, depending on how you're using that for conflict or pacing.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And you and I were talking a little bit beforehand and it seems like what they fall into arranged marriage is man versus society or something like culture. And then marriage of inconvenience is almost like man versus man. And then forced proximity is like man versus nature. Some sort of external, natural ish force
Sri Savita: I didn't even hit on fake dating, but you're right. Marriage of convenience. I think that's where I would put fake dating, cuz again it's negotiated between the people in that relationship.
So I think that's where I would consider marriage of convenience and fake dating because there's not really a lot of other voices that are coming in the mix. Unless they're talking to their friends, it's not like there's this push from larger society being either the family or like culture or, whatever it might be.
Andrea Martucci: And as you were talking about, the larger community of meddling family members, I can't help but note that it feels very much like something that is associated with "ethnic" family cultures, so oh, the big Irish family or the meddling aunties and I'm using " ethnic" in quotes because it is essentially cultures or identities that have been othered in some way and therefore seen as distinct from the quote unquote norm, which is I suppose the white, hetero, Protestant, nuclear family that is its own tiny little unit.
Sri Savita: And I think that in what's stuck out to me from that is that you see that, especially when you consider things like regency romances just with [00:06:00] Bridgerton coming into popularity with Netflix, that's a dynamic that you see in these other stories. It's just that they're thought about differently.
Oh, this is a historical romance. That's a historical artifact, or it's something that's, reductive or, as we talked about, like something that's seen as regressive and things like that.
And I think to speak to an earlier point, that's what my experience with thinking about arranged marriage has been informed by, this idea that it's not something that is very easy to pin down. It's not something that is completely bad or completely good. And I think there's some interesting ways that people play with that. And that's the kind of representation, whether it's in movies or books, that I've really responded to the most, where it's like, hey, look at how we can take these bounds and play with them a little bit or redefine them.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Just to talk about the scope of the texts that you're gonna talk about. And then also like our positionality. You and I are both Americans. We are talking about books here that have been published by and for an Anglophone western audience.
That is our perspective. And that is basically the perspective of these texts, which very clearly, we're not talking about Indian culture. We're talking about the Indian American diaspora experience in these romance texts that are not necessarily intended for an Indian audience, or not necessarily always primarily intended for an Indian American audience too.
Obviously that is a hoped for audience, but there's also an understanding that this needs to appeal to a " wider audience," i.e. White people.
Sri Savita: Yeah, and I think that part is really interesting. I mean, I appreciate Mindy Kaling. I like a lot of her work. Never Have I Ever is a show that I think hits on a lot of things in a way where, there's this wink to people that are like in the community or in that intended audience.
And I am most interested in those kinds of things where I see that, yeah, that's an inside joke that I can tell works for somebody like me reading or watching this and not, oh, it's a piece of the culture I had to put in to appease people's ideas of, there's gotta be mangoes, there's gotta be chai tea, there's gotta be these things that will make this Indian because we have to market to a wider audience in order for you to find that group that is gonna connect with it.
And, even if that's a very small percentage, it's just smarter business wise to try and get a a bigger market. So yeah there's things there where you have to consider who's telling that story. And I think we've talked about that in different types of conversations as a society, right?
When people are thinking about is this own voices or not? And then there's complicated things there with, are you own voices enough to be able to tell the story or whatever it might be.
So yeah I agree that I think that we're talking about examples that are in modern American culture or within the United States that people are consuming and, considering who's telling this story and is it with an eye towards the sort of majority consumption or towards people that are in that group.
And I [00:09:00] think even some of the authors that we'll get into, I think they've had their own experiences with this for their own books and talked about, I'm writing this for these readers. It might be that other people are picking up something useful from this, but I'm not necessarily writing it for them.
Yeah, I think those are all interesting layers to that question.
Andrea Martucci: So, if we think about American culture, what is like the stereotypical understanding about what arranged marriage is? You've definitely hit on it's archaic, obviously it's associated with more traditional cultures. It's very much at odds with sort of the individualism that is so prized in America.
In your own experience, did you encounter any ideas around arranged marriage that were in conflict with, or different from the hegemonic idea of it in American culture?
Sri Savita: Yeah. I think I think if I ever got questions about this, like from friends when you're younger and just talking about who do you have a crush on and blah, blah blah. I've actually been asked outright, are you gonna do an arranged marriage?
Which I think is like a very personal question, it's also like, you don't want the full answer. Sometimes people don't really wanna know. They just wanna say Oh, isn't this weird, or isn't this different? How strange this is, and then move on with their fun little soundbite.
So for me it's something where I think sometimes I've had to defend it in a way that I didn't always wanna be defending it, but just explaining these kinds of arrangements exist in other ways. You just don't call it that.
I can't remember what show this has come from, but there's somebody in that show that's like, well, you know, it's like the temple or the extended family is the algorithm. Anytime you think about matching or some sort of external entity that's bringing people together, it might even be that you meet someone through, like a friend of a friend or a family member sets you up with someone.
Those are arrangements, right? So I think it's important for me to point out that for me, thinking about this was understanding that thankfully, I'm in a place where I'm not being forced into these kinds of decisions. And so for me, thinking about it in a way that was more open, just felt natural and understanding that, yeah, this is something that some people choose.
This is something that still exists, but there's ways to make that flexible or to make that work for you. It's really having a really interconnected network that can set you up with people. And some of my friends would say that, they're like, Whoa, that's so great. You would just get, a bunch of options immediately and you wouldn't have to do any of the work.
I'm like I don't know if it works like that and practice for everybody. I'm not married, and I'm not in a relationship right now anyway, but it's something that I wanted to let people know depending on how they would kind of come with this question. Whether it was just very obviously to provoke or if they wanted to know a little bit more that, it's not necessarily the way it's been reduced by a lot of media.
And I think this is important when you're thinking about the depictions that do exist, because sometimes it's not somebody who is Indian or even Indian American that's producing these things. And so for drama's effect, it makes sense for that person in their mind to pull out the most, you know, traumatic or the most negative aspects because that's what they wanna [00:12:00] highlight.
And unfortunately that's, I think, what ends up in general perception about this. But in practice, I don't think it's always like that.
Like I think it's a little bit more boring than people think sometimes. Hey, do you wanna meet this person? Sure. It goes somewhere. It doesn't go somewhere, you know? and I think that's the more modern definition of it.
Andrea Martucci: Let's start getting into some books that are playing around with this trope. And so these are all gonna be contemporary romance novels. I believe all of them came out fairly recently. It's probably fair to say that in all of these examples, if the characters do not go along with the arranged marriage, the ramifications of that are more like disappointing parents versus anything more extreme than that.
They have much more agency in resisting this than does exist today and maybe has traditionally existed for some people in arranged marriage situations. So like that itself brings it to a point of it being a fun place to play because the consequences of resisting this arranged marriage are fairly benign.
Sri Savita: Yeah, that's a correct summative of statement. And I think they all play around with this in to varying degrees too. So it may not be that like the arranged marriage is the primary conflict. It's what I'm defining as, hey, this sort of fits the arranged marriage trope in, in my lens of looking at this.
So it's a little bit more of a liberal definition cuz I don't even think the words arranged marriage are used in every single one of these books. But what really stuck out to me, or what made them examples that kind of resonated for me is the way that they play around with that.
And it may be because it starts at the beginning as a point of conflict or there's something they play around with, using that as a device to either get two people to make that decision to go along with it or to find the right person or to reestablish reestablish those bounds.
And right. I think in most of the examples I'm talking about, there may be extended family, it may just be the parents. Sometimes it's not really disappointment, it's just more of we have to manage this narrative for ourselves versus other people.
There's layers that you can play with there. It's almost like that like Shakespearean element of twisting these sorts of situations, the comedy of errors kind of thing. You see some of that happening.
Andrea Martucci: Okay. So what is the first book that you wanted to talk about?
Sri Savita: Sophia Singh Sasson's Running Away With the Bride. This is a Harlequin romance, I believe. It's part of a series Nights at the Mahal. She has a few others as well. And so these kinds of things are brought up because it's a group of siblings that are kind of navigating life and career and love and things like that.
But I, I loved the way that this one started out because I think it's just one of the most entertaining setups. The heroine is getting married to somebody else, and it's from the hero's perspective, I believe that it starts. And so he shows up at this wedding thinking that she is the woman that he's interested in and wants to stop from marrying this other person.
She comes up to him as like, I'm not that person, but we're gonna go along with this and you're gonna get me out of here. So right away I like that it's her that's taken the agency of look at this happenstance that could work in my favor. Let me [00:15:00] try to renegotiate this situation so that he'll actually not be like, Nevermind, I'm interrupting the wrong wedding. Carry on.
And I thought that was great because I'm really interested in those situations where somebody recognizes that we can play with this. There's an advantage here for us. And I'm also especially interested in when that's the heroine. That's like, how can I work this in my favor?
Right? And then we're getting towards that marriage of convenience or fake dating. Something where it's like, let me get that agency back in this situation. So she wants to leave this wedding, doesn't wanna marry this person. Her family's all there. He was already gonna take the bride and it just happened to be the wrong bride. But that works in her favor.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. So you're hitting on, especially the heroine. Subverting the assumption that Indian women are like submissive or this is a misogynistic culture.
Sri Savita: Yeah, exactly. I think those are the things that are really important because I think part of what goes along with the arranged marriage trope is this idea that the women are meek or submissive or this sort of like desexualization of, whatever these dynamics might be or that it's, Yeah, it's very misogynistic and not that those things may not be historically present in Indian culture or any culture where there might be arranged marriages, but I'm very interested in that because it doesn't have to be this explicit thing, and you can tell right away that it's written in a way that works for people that are Indian American that are reading this, or at least for me, because it's not something that has to be like taught to you, right?
It's not like, Hey, this is not an arranged marriage anymore. She's able to take some agency for herself. Isn't that cool? That doesn't need to be explicitly spelled out. If you're following along, you're like, Yeah, I can see that this is what she's doing and this is maybe why the author wanted it to be presented that way, and that's what's really powerful for me as someone that's reading or consuming this type type of. of media.
Andrea Martucci: So it takes place in Vegas. The land of quickie marriages
Sri Savita: Yeah, and I didn't even think of that, but I think that's such a fun way to play with it too. I, I appreciate that because it's this perfect balance, at least for me, where you're not trying to cater too much to the western reader in that kind of trap that some books fall into with the very feisty heroine, and some Bollywood movies do this too. And it's just not a trope I really respond to where it's like I'm going to throw a fit about everything. It's more of this okay, we can do this in a way where we're going along with the flow and it doesn't have to be this like, let me stop and assert my independence.
And I know it sounds like maybe I don't like independent heroines. That's not it at all. It's just, I don't think it's necessarily always a point of argumentation, right? It doesn't really make sense for her to cause this public scene in this wedding when it's much easier for her to get what she wants by just going with the flow of this misperception.
And it's more interesting to that comedy of errors element. And I think it plays with that Vegas idea too, in a way where she's being strategic, right? It's like this quickie marriage, but it's not something that's like the consequence of drinking too much or like making a stupid mistake.
She's like, wow, what a fun, spontaneous thing that I can make work for me. There's an element of like calculation that I think speaks to the heroine's [00:18:00] agency more in this situation for me.
Andrea Martucci: It's a game of chance. And but as you said, strategic, and I think what you were talking about with the feisty heroines, I feel like a lot of that is progress isn't just doing the opposite of something.
Sri Savita: I think that's a great way of saying that. Probably because of my own lens as somebody that is Indian American, especially when we have conversations across many different industries about DEI and inclusivity. Sometimes you decide when you're gonna play that card and you're making the choice, right?
You have the agency to say, I'm strategically going to use my identity in this way to get what I want. And I think that's why maybe I respond to that a little bit more, where, for her it seemed like she was making that decision of I could just, stomp my feet and say, I don't wanna do this and fight it out with my extended family or whatever it is, and maybe get what I want.
Or I could just go along with this and they'll figure it out later. But by that point I'll already be several steps ahead. So making that decision I think is possibly a thing that a lot of people with complex identities may have to do on a day to day basis. And that's why I respond to that a little bit more.
I think I often see this kind of " feisty heroine" individualism in a lot of some of the more fantasy type stories where you may see some of this arranged marriage situation where it's just No, I'm definitely gonna like rebel against, the Fae King or whatever is trying to like, put me together with this person.
And I don't know, maybe it's just a trope that works a little bit more there because there's a lot more of this like action battle sequence and stuff. But I think in this situation, this just works so well for me.
That gives you an instant understanding of this character. You know that she's mischievous.
She's going to try and sneak out of this thing that doesn't work for her, but she's doing it in a way that's this is gonna get me what I want faster. And I think that in some ways asserts more independence and agency than having to shout about it.
Andrea Martucci: In thinking about the way that book is working through maybe some ideas about arranged marriage, it sounds like, look, this started out as a business arrangement or something that was mutually beneficial, and then because we're in this together, it starts to morph into love.
Sri Savita: Exactly. I think then it almost morphs into a forced proximity kind of situation. They're essentially arguing like entire time about, he's like, you're not the person that I came here to get. I'm not just gonna take this random woman with me and have all of these people angry that I stole you from your wedding.
And she's blackmailing him into it. And I don't remember the exact details of their conversation, but it then morphs into these other tropes. And that to me is really interesting, the sort of dynamics of where it might shift. The enemies part of it comes out a little bit later because now he's stuck with this person.
And there's a richer landscape there than just I think sometimes the two dimensional way that arranged marriage tropes can be reduced to for Indian stories.
Andrea Martucci: Right? Yeah. Because the tension creates the need to communicate and negotiate as opposed to perhaps the stereotypical understanding of arranged marriages where these two people who don't know each other very well are gonna be put together [00:21:00] and they're just gonna be polite strangers with each other.
Sri Savita: Yes, exactly. And I think that this is the thing with, some Bollywood movies or like I said, some of the more individualistic kinds of depictions. You can only rebel loudly. You can only rebel in this way that's angry or just like fighting with people.
And she's not doing that, but she's still very much asserting her power. She's like they've already seen me leave with you and unless you want all my brothers to come after you, you're gonna have to just go along with my plan. You don't have to be like super sassy or, and I'm not trying to like police people's language. I'm just saying there's a way to spend your energy wisely.
And she recognizes what it is in that moment to still get what she wants. But she's creating a very clear set of rules for him where it's like look at what you've done now. You don't want all these consequences. Let's just go along with this. And then he's stuck.
Andrea Martucci: So then the next one you wanted to talk about was Nisha Sharma's Dating Dr. Dil, which is kind of a modern version of taming of the true slash There's definitely references to 10 Things I Hate About You, which is of course famously based on The taming Of the Shrew by Shakespeare.
Sri Savita: Yes .
Yes, exactly. I guess I would qualify it as more of the matchmaking side. I don't think it's necessarily about the arranged marriage, but it morphs into this marriage of convenience type of trope with the fake dating because both characters are trying to get something that they want from this situation, from this arrangement. And they are very clear about having that conversation.
And then I think the conflict is for the hero, he's convinced that he just will not have feelings and does not want to acknowledge having feelings at all. And that's not gonna be part of this equation. And I think for the heroine, that becomes a point of conflict in terms of, I'm going along with this thing, but like eventually I do want there to be feelings or I would like to find love.
And so I can only go along with this for so long. Because I think for her the stakes initially are like well, there's a way for me to keep the family home that my dad wants to sell. The condition is that I get married. So she's initially willing to go along with this, but then there's this complex nature of wanting feelings to come into play, which is common in terms of the way that people think or talk about arranged marriage as well.
If this is essentially between two strangers in the typical definition, when does affection really come into play?
And the other reason that I like this kind of setup, similar what I talked about with the first book too, is there's this allyship that often comes through between the two characters having to work together in a situation or help each other out in some way.
And that I think, speaks to what actually comes about in a lot of arranged marriages, or at least, the good ones. Like when I talk to my parents about their experiences, it's often, we came to this country new people. We're figuring things out together. There's feelings and things that grow from that.
And a lot of people think that it's, instead of being this like quick burn and in the flames out, it's, over time you build this kind of strength. And so
Andrea Martucci: Wait, so hold on. I didn't ask this earlier cuz I didn't wanna be the person asking you if your parents had an arranged marriage, but did your parents have an arranged marriage?
Sri Savita: Yeah, they did.
Andrea Martucci: Oh my God. Okay. Wait, hold on. Let's just pause here for a second.
Sri Savita: Yeah. They got married and my dad was in the US for grad school at that time. their [00:24:00] families knew each other. My dad's friend from college ended up marrying one of my mom's sisters. Yeah, they knew each other, he went to India, got married, my mom and him came to Pennsylvania and the rest is history.
Andrea Martucci: The mythology of the US is there is this valorization of the idea of all these different people are coming together, it's a melting pot. And the beauty of this is that, the world is your oyster, Cinderella stories, lots of the maid marrying the billionaire. Whatever life you're born into is not the life that you are destined for. You can make your own destiny. And that includes the idea of who you're gonna find as a romantic partner.
And I think there's also an emphasis on find somebody who's different from you and like you're gonna have like sparks and we really love the sparks especially in narratives.
However, when we also think about what makes a really successful romantic relationship or long-term partnership, the data kind of shows that people who are more similar are probably happier in the long run and have more successful relationships.
And that's complicated because of course there's a lot of harmful systemic things wrapped up in that. That's, it's problematic for sure. However, if you are going to build a long-term partnership with somebody, shared values, shared ability to communicate about things because you have a similar cultural upbringing, alignment on religious practices, the lack of religious practices, language, like whatever.
There's a million things that having a similar cultural upbringing is going to smooth the way in a long-term partnership. And let's not forget that a long-term partnership is essentially about building a life together. Running a life together. It's like running a little LLC with, with two people.
And you don't wanna have a business partner that you can't have a conversation with and you can't work well with.
Sri Savita: Yeah, I agree. I think as I've gotten older, and I think part of this is also recognizing, you used Disney as an example, like the things that we're told as we're kids or like the things that were consuming for media. Yeah. I think there is this ambiguous idea of sparks that has driven a lot of people where Oh, just not feeling this instant connection or I don't really know that there's this like mystical, magical thing that I'm, supposed to be recognizing.
And again, I'm speaking from my limited experience not being married currently or in a relationship, but I think that a lot of it then ends up being more about the practicalities, which you get used to navigating pretty early in an arranged marriage. And so I think as I've gotten older, those are the things that I'm appreciating, right?
Like somebody that can just make things a little bit easier day to day. Or you're picking up for each other, right? Somebody's had a hard day for work, somebody else is gonna be like, Hey, why don't I just figure out dinner? You don't have to think about it.
And those are the kinds of things that I honestly appreciate reading and writing in romance because I think it's really special when there's something that means a lot to the people in that relationship, but may not necessarily mean something to everybody outside of it.
Just remembering that you really like green grapes and you don't like the red ones. I'll make sure that there's always green ones for you. Like those little things to me indicate that you really know a [00:27:00] person deeply and that you know that sometimes it's not gonna be these glamorous gestures that mean the most.
And I think that's what for people that are setting up a life, and focusing on those practical decisions early on. It takes a lot to recognize that it's not always gonna be these big moments. And sometimes that's where you see things fail, right?
Like people sometimes think it's all about the build up to this wedding or it's all about these big social media worthy moments and then they can't really make the day to day practicalities work.
And ultimately you get started with that earlier and you recognize that it's really about communication. Because if you don't really even know the person very well to start, to whatever degree you're starting out at that arranged marriage you have to communicate to make those things work. And I think you just get a perspective on that much earlier.
Andrea Martucci: Because we're talking about romance novels, it's interesting to have an arranged marriage trope because really there is an emphasis in the romance genre, on the sparks, on the getting together part, and obviously we need to believe that these people can have a successful long-term relationship. But there's definitely a lot of times where I'm like, Okay, well that was fun, but these two people are gonna burn out, like two stars just hurtling towards the sun.
Sri Savita: Yeah. And I think your point about opposites, that's a big thing where it's like the conflict or the friction is from how different people are. But I think when you think about what a lot of people are responding to or what they might be looking for, those shared values, especially if you're not part of the majority culture, shared experiences, things like I would like to be able to pass this language on, I don't know as much of it. It would be nice to find somebody that kind of knows this language too. Things like that I think are important.
But you're right. I think that usually for the sake of an interesting story, it's always these more like explosive, combative types of things that seem to make the biggest impact.
And that's not to say that two people could have similar backgrounds or their families might know each other and they get put together in arranged marriage and it's easy. I don't think that's always the case. It's not like it's been smooth sailing every single day, for my parents.
And I think especially when there's circumstances that test you, those kinds of things will come out. That's just a plug for it really depends on the people understanding what the goal is for their marriage or for the relationship. I think that's true no matter what.
Andrea Martucci: right? Yeah. And if I'm not mistaken, in Dating Dr. Dil, the main conflict, it's more of like the character's philosophical understandings of what love is and what relationships should be like?
Sri Savita: Yeah. So I think yeah, in Dating Dr. Dil, I think is dealing with that because she recognizes that, this arrangement seems great at the start. Although I don't think she warms up to it immediately, but she recognizes that it's a way for her to be able to keep this house. But at what cost, what is it making her think about her feelings on love? What does she feel like she may have to compromise on?
And so she's figuring out those things through the process. And I think those are important things for people to consider, not just within arranged marriage or within Indian culture, but in [00:30:00] relationships in general.
And so I think that I appreciate that is discussed or shown through her perspective. And it's not an easy question to really figure out, especially when there are these higher stakes. I know some people that have read this book, like it may not really resonate for them because it feels a little circular, but it's not easy to figure this stuff out, especially when you may not have a lot of examples to look to.
For both characters, having discussions or reflections about what are the things that were put here by other people, what are the things that I think are true for me? Knowing that may be dependent on just that interaction with the two of you and it may not be true for all relationships either. So there's a lot of like planes of thinking about this, I think, or examining your own views in a kind of explicit way.
Andrea Martucci: Were the things they were navigating there, were they tied in the text to cultural expectations because of their Indian American identity? Or were they not necessarily tied to that aspect of their identity?
Sri Savita: I think there's multiple levels. I think there is some of that in terms of what does this mean for our family, Indian community? What does it mean for, whose expectations we might be disappointing or not? There's also this more public level because he's like a doctor with a TV show and this sort of meet by like having this argument in the audience.
So there's this public image angle and then also just in the conversations they're having with their friends and just getting to know each other. And then maybe some of the things about dating in modern society, right? Do you believe that there's such a thing as true love or in the age of dating apps, you just feel like that is a completely nonsensical notion.
So I think there's a lot of different ways that they are examining their beliefs or their values or things that they hold important. And that kind of comes out in all those different conversations.
Andrea Martucci: All. So the next one you have is the Marriage Game by Sara Desai.
Sri Savita: yeah, so with this one, I think the title already lets you know that there's going to be some playing around with this idea of marriage at least. And again, I don't think it's the arranged marriage. It's been a while since I've read this one. But there is the concept of the heroine's father specifically, I think, sets up this profile for her on, again, something that's become a little bit more stereotypical as this idea of these matrimony sites and like matchmaking kinds of social media for Indian Americans or Indian people.
And so she's kind of like, Okay, I'm gonna go through with this. She actually really loves her dad and wants to give this a shot. So it's not really contentious at the start, I don't think. And there's this forced proximity kind of situation because she's sharing an office with somebody else who's working outta that office, the hero.
And, they butt heads. Eventually he's developing feelings and he's like, I don't want you to necessarily be going on all these other dates. I don't actually like seeing this. So, Initially I think he sort of thinks it's fun and he's gonna go see these ridiculous dates that she's going on and things like that.
But it's is a vehicle then for him to declare his [00:33:00] feelings for her and make sure that she doesn't actually go through with this whole marriage game kind of thing by the end. Yeah, so
Andrea Martucci: family pressure to go on these dates, and so she's out in the market looking for a partner to get married and then he is not the intended partner for her.
Sri Savita: No,
Andrea Martucci: for
Sri Savita: no, he's not the intended partner. And for her too, it's cuz she cares so much for her family and she wants to give herself a fair shot, she's like, Yeah I'll go for it. And then he's I think he dismisses like the fact that she is doing this or he's like, Wow, how unprofessional that you and your cousin are just looking at these profiles, while we're in this office.
They don't work together, but they're just sharing an office space.
And then okay, I wanna see how this thing plays out. So he's not the intended person. He just becomes a more viable candidate over time.
Andrea Martucci: To tie to the themes we're talking about.
What we are as an audience supposed to understand is that because she's Indian American, it is important for her father, for her family, for her to get married. And there's that influence there. And he is not necessarily somebody, it's not like you should marry this guy. However, is he considered an acceptable partner for her in that system?
Sri Savita: I should have mentioned he's also Indian, so you know, there's that and then yeah, so for her, I believe that the heroine, her brother has passed away and her family like owns a restaurant. And so it may be about like her kind of taking the mantle of the business eventually and her parents just wanting to see her settled. Maybe some added pressure because she's their only child now.
So yeah, there's some of those things and her kind of feeling like, yeah, I do want them to know that like I'm okay. And, I think like at the start she's had a string of bad relationships that haven't really worked out.
So her parents just wanna make sure that she's secure. I think that's actually an important point that I wanna pause on. Cuz there's these other stereotypes of like Indian people are always highly educated or they end up as doctors and engineers and lawyers and that comes from a place of we want security for our kids, and so we are going to make sure that they get into these careers that have an immediate necessity. Nobody can take that away from you. It helps you establish your foothold here.
And so you see some of that in the arranged marriage idea of we want you to be, established. We want you to be taken care of. We want to make sure that you will have a place here and won't have to have the same struggles.
And so then he becomes more of an okay candidate. I think once he's shown that he's not just that nuisance in the office that doesn't want her to be there and things like that. I think over time you get to see some of those more vulnerable moments, which serve as a window for her and for the family that yeah, he really cares about her. He would be a great person for her to end up
Andrea Martucci: Mm-hmm. It's interesting because it sounds like she starts out by essentially agreeing to familial and cultural expectations to get married. And he is the one who's a bit like, Why are you doing this? He's not bought into the idea, but then because he sees her actively pursuing possible relationships with other [00:36:00] people it lights a fire under him - there's a forced proximity element too, but he's like, Oh no, no, I wanna marry her, or I wanna be with her anyways. And so then it's get rid of these other candidates, slot me in. So is he grappling with his own understanding of the importance of getting married, settling down, stuff like that?
Sri Savita: Yeah, I
Andrea Martucci: or?
Sri Savita: think that's similar to what Prem is dealing with in Dating Dr. Dil. Because actually for Sam in The Marriage Game, he has another reason for being in that office. I believe there was some sort of situation where his sister got injured and he has his own sort of like revenge plot kind of thing that he's focused on.
So it's not that he necessarily is like, I'm the night that's coming in and going to take the place of these other suitors. I think he's just kind of like, wait, I actually care about this person. It's less even about the arranged marriage setup by the end. It's more of yeah, it was a way for him to recognize that he had been set on this path where he wasn't really making room for anyone else. Like he wasn't even really letting his family in to like, his ideas of, what he's trying to pursue.
I think his sister has a conversation with him about I'm the one that's been injured and I've managed to find love. I've moved on. You can't make this take away the other good things in your life or alienate you from the people that do care about you, it's destroying you. That sort of thing.
It's similar to, Prem in Dating Dr. Dil has this conversation with his friends or with his mom. But I think there are several conversational points where he's recognizing Oh I need to maybe think about this for myself. I think that's actually kind of hallmark of some Bollywood movies and maybe across different romance novels where it's like maybe for the hero there's more of this conversation of Oh, I can't just sow my wild oats I need to settle down, or I need to warm up to this idea of like why this could be good. I think it's tied into that maturity aspect too.
That's not to say that there can't be heroines that have that issue as well. I think just often we see it with heros.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I think that's definitely something that stereotypically is associated with, masculinity, the desire for promiscuity and then the quote unquote feminizing influence of partnering with one woman, marriage, family cetera. That is the cultural expectation that they have to be convinced by the right woman in these traditional structures that like, okay, because you're great, I will finally stop doing this. But again, that's like a romance. That's all across romance novels.
Sri Savita: Yeah. And I think if we tie it to, to what I've seen with like Indian representation of this, the second generation or the children of immigrants, which I think a lot of these stories are set that way, that the parents like immigrated here and then the kids are born in the US usually.
So then, you have these expectations from day one that like, this is how things have been in the family, or this is how things are in Indian families. Like you're gonna rail against the possibility of an arranged marriage, so you're like, no way am I gonna settle down. Also, initially it's always about make sure you get your education, make sure you get like financially stable, things like that and then all of a sudden you are inching towards 30 or you're in your thirties and there's this like snap of, you know, a complete [00:39:00] 180 where it's like why aren't you married yet?
It's like, well, I wasn't really focused on meeting people because you're taking the rug out from under me and switching the expectation here.
So at that point it's I've spent all this time building these careers, or, whatever it is that you're doing, you're independently settled. And then there's this interesting conflict between two people that are very strong willed because they've set up these very competitive careers or independent lives, how are they gonna bring those things together?
I think that's where a lot of these stories come in to depict those kinds of things.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. It sounds like in every single one of these stories we're talking about, two people who have their own careers, we're very much not talking about stories where there's a more traditional understanding of a woman's role. A woman who has less education, less ambition, going to be a stay at home mom, wife cetera.
Sri Savita: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's very much what we're talking about here. And I think it's sometimes even talked about between the characters and their parents in terms of it might be that the mom or the dad or whoever is saying Yeah, it's going to look different for you compared to what our examples like.
That is something that speaks to me. When I was growing up, I don't have older siblings. I don't have a bunch of extended family or a bunch of cousins. So for me, looking to my parents for examples or asking them questions was how I was learning to navigate my identity.
And that's still true, but there's always gonna be this piece that isn't going to be accessible to me because I don't know what it was like for them. And they don't necessarily know everything for me. You know, they weren't growing up in American schools or thinking about Hey, we gotta have this brand of jeans, or whatever it is.
So there's always gonna be this little bit of a disconnect. Sometimes those rifts widen you know, at different points in your childhood. Maybe that's where you do butt heads with your parents. Sometimes it's not as big of a rift depending on what the issue might be or who the person and their parents are.
But that is interesting to me where there is this moment between the family members or the parents and the character talking about that and saying Yeah, here's a piece where you're gonna have to figure out this for yourself, or what this means for you because A, I can't tell you that, and b I don't have that lens of experience.
And I think that is interesting as somebody that has had to navigate that, which may not be true for a lot of readers or families.
Andrea Martucci: All right, so then you also have Sajni Patel's The Trouble with Hating You. This sounds like Enemies to Lovers.
Sri Savita: Yeah, it, I think it is again, it's been a while since I've read that one too, but I do think that this one starts out a little bit more where she doesn't necessarily see eye to eye with her family, specifically her dad and her halfs intention. And he's the one that's pushing for the arranged marriage.
And the hero actually is invited over to the house and I think she like trips over him or runs into him as she's trying to leave and she's just like, what are you doing here? I have no interest in this. And then they just keep running into each other cuz they have mutual groups of friends and there's also this idea of her being the quote unquote bad girl.
She's never been perfect Indian daughter and he is perfect on paper and also just a nice human being. So there's sort of that tension in terms of, as we talked about earlier over email, that kind of rebellion [00:42:00] storyline for heroines in Indian stories.
I think that comes out a little bit more there. That wasn't necessarily a dynamic that I responded to the most, but I do think it is something that is probably true for many different experiences. This is why that we need more of these stories to begin with because there's so many individual differences that can affect the way that these things are playing out over the course of the characters' lives.
Andrea Martucci: All right and then the last one you had was The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale. So my husband's, one of his old roommates was in a band, and she had this song called Shaadi.com which was about Shaadi.com, the dating site
Sri Savita: Yeah. The dating
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. It's a great song. I'm gonna link it in the show notes because there's a video of her performing it. It's a really funny song.
Sri Savita: Yeah. And I think that sort of worked its way into the vernacular, almost like people are aware of this now as like a arranged matrimonial kind of site. And what I love about this one is that there's a Hindi word in the title, right? That's the first time that I'm seeing this.
And that really means a lot to me. I mean, same for like Dating Dr. Dil. Dil means heart. And so there's a play on that in the title as well. And I think, again, those are nods to people that would recognize this, and I appreciate that as one of those readers. Yeah, I really loved this one. It was probably the one I think from the list that I resonated with the most.
So again, the setup is a little bit implied. I don't think the families were really involved or it came out a little bit later. In a softer way.
The heroine also has an interesting job that I haven't usually seen in a lot of these kinds of books, or at least books with Indian characters where, like I said, sometimes it's representing these more stereotypical careers and, that's also within reason where you're trying to maybe redefine some of those stereotypes for those characters.
But the heroine I think she does like furniture restoration type things. So she has an Etsy store where she'll get vintage furniture and restore or reupholster or whatever it might be, and then resell those things. And she does really well with this boutique setup that she has.
the hero sells real estate. And so there's a beach house I think that he's trying to get off the market. And I think it comes out later that his mom and her mom had talked to each other and the heroine's mom had said, Oh she could come and make it look really nice and do some of the interior design stuff.
And so that element wasn't something that the two characters were aware of. They were just like, Oh, okay, like I guess I'll help you out with this thing. And of course then you have some of that forced proximity. They're in this beautiful setting. It's a beach house, they're working these long days and nights.
And she does have prior experience with him, cuz I think they dated in high school and it did not go well. So she has a distance from him, but it's rediscovering, in the ways that he's changed. And I think there was some sort of miscommunication about why they broke up in the first place with some of the family expectations of Hey, is this something that might be distracting you right now? Or whatever it might be.
So there's a lot of exploration there. But yeah, the setup again is not this explicit arranged [00:45:00] marriage setup. It's hey, maybe we can just give you a nudge in the right direction, which I think speaks to someone's intervening with that hand of fate. Depending on how much agency you have in that equation or not.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. We've touched on online dating a little bit other parts of the conversation, and very much at play in the themes of arranged marriage. There's this idea of Indian culture and arranged marriage is traditional and western culture is modern.
And the modern way of dating is individuals choosing a partner completely on their own outside of their networks, potentially using a dating site or whatever, outside of these familial or communities. And you brought this up earlier, the dating app is an algorithm that's essentially like, what do you have in common?
What are your interests? And you can vet people individually. Oh, you're into this. I'm not into cooking. I don't want to even go on one date with you.
Sri Savita: And you can decide how extensive those things are. Like I think when you brought up shaadi.com, like that very clearly is a dating site. It fits the mold of what we're thinking about with other forms of social media or dating sites in modern Western culture. There's the stereotypes having a more detailed, as they call biodata. If anyone's seen the the Netflix movie Wedding Season, they talk about this on there. And there's like the joke that these are really extensive and like they get down to matching, horoscopes and things like that.
Cuz that's part of something that is important in Indian culture in terms of, the way that they view things spiritually and whatever the lens might be there. I think that's already implied, like within the modern understanding of Indian arranged marriage.
There is this like very prominent shaadi.com kind of idea of, hey, there's an online assistant to, bringing these people together. So it shouldn't be hard in my eyes to modernize this idea or to hybridize it in a way where it's yeah, you can decide how traditional you wanna go with that idea if you're writing about it or, deciding for that course of life in your own life.
But I don't always see that, right? I don't always see that come out, even though I'm like, you already know about shaadi.com enough to have it be a cultural thing that people can recognize. It doesn't seem very hard to bring these other elements into more modern ways of thinking too.
But I don't know that I always see that.
Andrea Martucci: When we were writing back and forth to each other you were saying that what you really wanted to talk about and which I think we have talked about, is how these authors are reclaiming and redefining the arranged marriage trope in Indian American romance novels. I was like, Okay, but then I need to think about the historical context of arranged marriage, cuz it's not all sunshine and rainbows and there is a lot of things that I'm going to touch on extremely briefly.
A, that arranged marriage has existed in almost every culture in the world. And in a lot of them prior to the 18th century. After that point, it's becoming less common in different cultures. So this is not unique to Indian culture.
Second of all, that marriage essentially has traditionally been about a business contract. It's economic and social and it's much less historically about [00:48:00] emotions. This idea that marriage as being about romantic love, that is a very new idea historically, globally, et cetera.
So yes, we do have this idea of arranged marriage being a thing of the past, but also the idea of marriage and what it's for has drastically changed in recent history. It's not coincidence that where you also see a lot of arranged marriages in the romance genre is fantasy romance with kings and the fae or royal romances in the contemporary setting where there's much more this understanding of dynasty and bloodlines and needing to align with a partner who of equal rank and status and also allying two nations or two groups of people, right?
So we see these themes and there's kind of like a historical basis for that. And then also the other place you see this is with cultures that are othered, like mafia romance in contemporary romance which is very much this ooh, Italian Americans or, I guess you can have Irish American mobs. There's very much this ethnic othering going on there.
But traditionally, marriage was about resources and that becomes problematic in a lot of ways where women in particular historically were treated as a commodity to be traded. I'm not saying that the men were always better off in these situations, but traditionally, women have gotten the worst end of the deal here.
And obviously in societies where women do not have equality and do not have a lot of power, do not have the ability to divorce their partner or have economic power if they are able to divorce their partner. There's a lot of hierarchical and power issues and it can be problematic.
The other thing I wanna hit quickly is that I'm not an expert in this, we do also know that there are some problematic elements of arranged marriage in Indian culture relating to caste and relating to religion where there definitely are some harmful ideas behind why people want to partner with some people and not others. Behind religious preferences there can be a lot of discriminatory beliefs about people of different religions or,
Sri Savita: Yeah. Just colorism and things like
that and yeah.
Andrea Martucci: Yes. So there's a lot of stuff that can be boiling under the surface and I'm sure you can look very closely with a fine tooth comb at any of these texts and find something that you're like, Ooh, that can be a little problematic if you kind of like get into the history here.
But as my mind started to go down that, like Andrea let me muddle around in the problematic stuff, I was reminded of something Hsu-Ming Teo said when she was on the podcast.
And actually there's a lot of overlaps between this conversation and my conversation with her cuz she was talking about East Asian American cultural authenticity in romance. One of the things that she studies is these reparative narratives where, in particular she was talking about these historical romances in Australia with European convicts [00:51:00] who were sent to Australia in these penal colonies.
And how a all of the people in these penal colonies are terrible living conditions. Lots of abuse of all the people there, but then also these people are getting sent to colonize a land with indigenous people. And there's just a lot of problematics going on there.
and I was kind of like, ooh, this is so complicated and I'm gonna read a direct quote what she said. This is around these reparative fantasies.
"They're not trying to idealize that past, they're recognizing their past. But what they're trying to do, I argue, is to provide a readable, usable heritage for women who read their novels to say that, okay, we know what the convict passed was like.
"But here's an alternative where women are actually empowered, where convict men are not completely degraded, where social mobility is possible, where the happy ending is possible. They're rewriting a story of national origins that is useful and empowering for women in the prisons." End quote.
And I think that's useful to think about like, what you are finding interesting in these stories is it's not so much are they super accurately portraying arranged marriage in India or every Indian American diaspora experience, which is obviously impossible.
It's how are they thinking through what they do know of culture and navigating it and trying to imagine perhaps, let's say a reparative fantasy of what arranged marriage could look like.
It is all complicated. There is no answer to get to, but it is a way to explore and imagine a way in which you can take control of an arranged marriage in a world where arranged marriages, the participants don't always have control and they're not always that great for the people in them. They can be, and I want to imagine a way in which they can be, or a way in which I can make it work for me, or a way in which I have agency and choice in that situation.
Sri Savita: And usually you see that with the characters because it maps onto what might be typical for the romance arc anyway. At some point you're figuring out like there are a lot of voices from society or from family, or from things that I have consumed. Where do I stand on this? What does this mean for me?
What can I live with, What can't I live with? And that is, the agency then going forward and figuring out.
And then, like I said, even for me, I've had to sort of recognize that there are attitudes that I have about being Indian that aren't mine, but were put there from, growing up in the United States and those are things that you have to confront and figuring out your stance on these ideals and what you would like to do, I think is part of that shift in understanding your culture and what it means for you. And also understanding the romance arc and figuring out what do I want? How am I participating in this? Instead of maybe being, forced into it or dragged along or whatever that might be.
The thing that you were talking about in terms of traditionally been a business arrangement or for financial reasons I think you start to recognize even in the conversations that people that are in [00:54:00] their, twenties and thirties are having now around marriage where they are getting married later, or, it is about Hey, here's access that I can get with a dual income household versus not. So those things are still there, and I think it's recognizing that capitalism is still a force that's present.
In terms of like colonialism, yeah. That is wrapped up pretty tightly with India's past and even the way that maybe India thinks on its own identity, or Indian people relate to their own identity. What I've found interesting about these works, even if maybe not all of it resonates for me, which is a big ask as we've talked about. It's going to be very individual and every, every author should be telling the story that they wanna tell.
But I think the parts that have usually spoken to me the strongest are the ones where you're recognizing it's not always about having to pick this one narrative that you've gotten or this other narrative. It is really that you're finding that place that might be in the middle and that is an okay place. It doesn't even have to be defined. It may change at different points.
And that's the thing that I think is interesting about how they're working with this and, because I think it would be irresponsible to say this wasn't a bad thing.
Those things are true. They were not necessarily built to give women the agency or independence that, what I've enjoyed about the way that they're playing with these tropes now is that they are showing more of that.
Andrea Martucci: Right. And I think, so much of how we view if something is good or bad, it has to do with our expectations growing up, the cultural and familial expectations that we grow up with. Where, also what Hsu-Ming Teo talks about, people felt love in the past, but they may have had very different understandings about what marriage was for.
You know what I mean? And. If you grow up with an understanding that marriage isn't about love it's about combining material resources and maintaining social status and allying two families, neighbors together and making sure that their land doesn't get divided and the family dynasty loses wealth.
Okay. Look, you're gonna go into that with like your baseline, that is what my expectation is here and we're gonna be partners and whatever.
Sri Savita: Also if you've ever seen a Bollywood movie, it's not that romance does not exist in those movies. It's a very big part of the dramatization. Nearly every single song in a Bollywood movie is going to relate to romance. Most of the words I know in Hindi are words that relate to love.
So it's not that's not a part of the understanding, which I think is interesting too because I think it's, maybe it is really about just marrying those two notions, like the practicality of what an arranged marriage is, and then your ideas of romance. Sometimes you're finding that, in the right person and the same person, and that would be great.
Sometimes it means that you're maneuvering that arranged marriage to say, Hey, here's another person that I didn't realize I had these feelings for. And I think that's what we talked about through these stories, right? It's, it is bringing those things together to find okay, here's like the perfect way that this looks for me, or the right way that this looks for me.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And as we talked about, there's also a way that you veer so far in the other direction that you make yourself miserable partnering with [00:57:00] somebody where there's a lot of excitement and romance at the beginning, but you're terrible partners and there's no practicality there.
And I think if you look at the different ways that romance novels and in particular the ones you mentioned, how are they going to resolve this idea of the cultural expectations?
All of these stories, I mean the reason we're talking about them, there was an element of Indian American culture influencing the reasons for this relationship or the way this relationship is structured and how the story resolves that, I think is really interesting.
Is this story showing how you can adhere to cultural expectations, but have it work for you? Are they how you can successfully resist the cultural expectations? Like not ending up with the partner that you're supposed to be with and finding somebody else, Or is it, I am the one that instigated this arranged marriage?
So it's all different ways of playing with and looking at and thinking about, you're taking something that exists. The idea of arranged marriage, the maybe tension between romance and practicality, and then which path am I gonna go down and how am I gonna be victorious in this journey?
Sri Savita: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a great way of thinking about it. And to me that actually is very American to feel like, what is the way that I can have it all. I think that should be something that does speak to.
More Western audiences. I think that's a very United States mentality of like, how can I have this all? And, but I think, there is some point of deciding what does that "all" mean for me? Not like, Oh, am I keeping this person happy? But yeah, to me like that actually is great about these characters because it represents them being Indian and wanna think about how their culture is going to fit into the way that they're navigating things as Indian Americans, but also that, that American mentality of hey, maybe there's a way for me to win across multiple fronts here.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I think as readers as much as we recognize that that is unrealistic and a fantasy, we also would be bummed if that's not how the story played out.
Sri Savita: Especially in romance, it's like the idea that you shouldn't have to settle or it's important that you're not giving up pieces of yourself. And even though we've talked about some of the pragmatic things, the pragmatic things are not the expense of you're in this lackluster relationship.
Part of the arc is yeah, you're really excited about this person. It's awesome, you have everything that are looking for. It should feel like a win at the end. I That's what the happily ever after/ happily for now kind of idea is that you have gotten through the trials and tribulations. It needs to end on this high note.
Andrea Martucci: The focus on cultural expectations or practicality. This is not specific to Indian American stories. You think about the historical, where the heroine is like, I'm gonna throw aside society's expectations. I'm gonna marry this pirate, because I love him. But guess what? He's a secret Duke. So we get to have our cake and eat it too. We get to have the excitement and adventure, while also still being a duchess and having material wealth.
Sri Savita: Yeah, I think that's a perfect example where it's like, oh, it worked out anyway. Yes I do think that's an important piece of, [01:00:00] being able to envision like, hey, it, it can all work out. And I think that especially for the modern ways that people are thinking about this, that is important, right?
Like you've worked to establish your own life, your own career. Those are things you don't wanna go backwards on. But there's a way that maybe you wanna keep these elements of your traditions or culture to pass on, or, to strengthen or you appreciate having that connection with somebody else, and that's why you're choosing to be with them.
And I think as somebody that's an Indian American reader, I like those bits the most because it does help me see that yeah, there's the Indian culture, but there's also the part of me that's the Western American reader too. I can see both of those things and if both of those elements are there to some sort of magical balance that makes the most sense for me, I'm gonna resonate with that story more.
I think sometimes if it tips one way or the other, then that's usually where I'm like, that thing didn't really work for me.
I guess maybe I do want it all. I think that's probably what really makes me happy at the end of one of these books is that this person got to make their own definition and that their definition didn't have to leave anything out.
Andrea Martucci: I think the title of this episode should to be having it all
Sri Savita: Yeah. Yeah. As cliche as that is, isn't that what we all want?
Andrea Martucci: Okay. So in the spirit of having it all, people just heard this fantastic conversation and they want more Sri. Where can people find even more of you online and what exciting work can they look for coming soon from Sri Savita?
Sri Savita: So you can find information about my writing on my website. It's sri-savita.com. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram @ sri_writes_here where I share a lot of what I'm reading, what I'm writing, what I'm crafting, other things that may not necessarily be directly related to those things. So you can follow all the shenanigans on there.
My upcoming release is gonna be a story in the Wordmakers New Year at Hôtel d'Amour Romance anthology. All stories take place at the same hotel in the French Alps.
So you'll find more info on my website and all proceeds from the purchase of that anthology will go to charity. So just for a good cause too.
Andrea Martucci: So what is your story about In the anthology?
Sri Savita: I really wanted to look at what does it mean to be all American as an Indian family. The heroine is starting her career as a senator.
She has two kids. She's navigating the demands that is taking to keep up with. And she neglected her marriage a little bit. Her and her husband are growing apart. He is Mexican American and a professor. He's got academia challenges along with things that they're trying to balance at home.
And, with these new schedules, there's just this period of them like drifting apart. She almost forgets his 40th birthday and says, Hey, why don't we like take this trip to France and spend some time on each other. But for her it's scary too, because she's not really great at taking vacations and she hasn't really taken time to be alone with him.
She's like, Who are we even after this [01:03:00] much time? Do we even know who those people are? And there's some nice moments that come out of that. There's a snowstorm, forced proximity kind of situation, so you can look forward to that.
Andrea Martucci: And by the end they have it all once again?
Sri Savita: Yeah, of course they do. This is romance baby. They have it all.
Andrea Martucci: Nice. Congratulations because this is your first publication, right?
Sri Savita: Yeah, it is. This is my author debut. I guess this is actually, me going on the air, making my persona known. Yes, you heard it breaking news. You heard it here first. I'm excited. I'm nervous. All the things, so I'm really hoping people like it.
Andrea Martucci: I am also hoping people really like it. And I'm looking forward to it.
Sri Savita: Yay. Thank you. This is great.
Andrea Martucci: Thanks for being here today.
Sri Savita: Thank you.
Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources. Or you can find me @shelflovepod on Twitter or @shelflovepodcast on Instagram. Or you can always email me at Andrea at Shelf Love Podcast dot com.
If you want to join the conversation about the topics that we discuss on Shelf Love, I'd encourage you to check out Shelf Love's Patreon at Patreon.com/ShelfLove. Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, Frederick Smith, and John Jacobson.
See your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website if you join at any level. That's Patreon.com/ShelfLove.
Breaking news. There is now a $1 tier on the Shelf Love Patreon , and that's called Here for the Discourse. So if you are bummed out about the destruction of Twitter, let's just be honest. I was going to say social media, it's just Twitter. I'm trying to get off Twitter if you're trying to get off Twitter, but you think that you are going to miss romance discourse, please consider joining the Shelf Love Patreon.
Because you are here listening to a Shelf Love episode, if you are an avid Shelf Love listener, and do you want to take part in the conversation on the Shelf Love Discord, but $1 a month is out of range for you, please reach out to me, Andrea, at Shelf Love Podcast dot com. I do not want it to be a barrier to entry for people who are truly fans.
I don't really want it to be a free for all where anybody can join. But if you're a listener, this is literally the place I created for you. I do not want you to feel like money is a barrier to you joining the conversation. Please let me know. I can add you to the Discord.
That's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.
Alyssa Cole, Amanda Diehl, Andrea Martucci, Angela Toscano, Arielle Zibrak, Ash Dylan, Becky, Bree Hill, Carter Sherman, Charish Reid, Christina Fattore, Copper Dog Books, Dani Lacey, Danielle Knafo, Denise Williams, Diana Filar, EE Ottoman, Emma Barry, Eric Selinger, Erin Leafe, Esme Brett, Felicia Grossman, Funmi B., Hannah Hearts Romance, Hsu Ming Teo, Huike Wen, Jack Harbon, Jayashree Kamble, Jennifer Crusie, Jess, Jessica Lyn Van Slooten, Jhen, Jodi McAlister, Jodie Slaughter, Joe Martucci, John Jacobson, Julie Moody-Freeman, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Kate Clayborn, Katee Robert, Katrina Jackson, Kelly Reynolds, Kennedy Ryan, Kianna Alexander, Kini Allen, Kit Rocha, Lucy Score, Lynell, Margarita Guillory, Margo Hendricks, Maria DeBlassie, Megan Erickson, Mia Sosa, Nicole Falls, Norma Perez-Hernandez, Penny Reid, Rebecca Romney, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Rosie Danan, Ruby Lang, Sandra Kitt, Scarlett Peckham, Sionna Fox, Sri Savita, Steve Ammidown, Suzanne Jefferies, Talia Hibbert, Tamara Lush, Tasha L. Harrison, The Swoonies, Tif Marcelo, Tina Benigno, Whoamance, fangirl jeanne