An Unlikely Goddess Reviewed on Cabin Goddess with Curry Skewers
“An Unlikely Goddess” is Worthy of the Cabin Goddess
I am rolling in good books this month, from six-foot horny preying mantises, Egyptian tombs, epic zombie reads to serious literary reads like this, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s An Unlikely Goddess. I have been a fan of Moha for a while. Some of you have read my review from last year’s #WeeklyShorts for her collection of short stories, Coloured & Other Stories. One thing which Moha has a gift for is telling tales which reflect her upbringing and culture also speak to each and every one of us.
Review and a Recipe
Moha shared a recipe with me for her traditional fish curry called “Cooking, Curry and Curves” . Originally published over at But What are They Eating for their Foodfic series. You should go check it out, here is her lead in:
When I was growing up, much like Sita, the protagonist of An Unlikely Goddess, being Indian was not cool. People didn’t have the knowledge about Indian food or culture that they do now. This was long before Madonna started wearing bindis or Deepka Chopra on Oprah. My favorite foods were often deemed too smelly to eat in front of my American friends.
—Follow to the rest of the recipe—
When a title fits the book in every way with everything within the tale, its like the sprinkles on top of a cake. The added sparking making it an amazing read. An Unlikely Goddess covers everything this book is about from the narrow focus of Sita’s time with her books to the broad aspect of how she faces and deals becoming her own woman.
One thing about this book that I would normally have an issue reading about was the constant hammering of über and hyper Christianity in the middle of the book. However it was Sita’s story to tell, not mine and Moha’s writing is so well balanced I fell into the tale face first and did not bother getting back up till I was done. I was telling my friend about the read and she said “Wait, it is a book with a bunch of Christianity and you love it?” Yes I did but the book was not about the Christianity, that was just a story device. It was another experience, not just a book. Reading this from cover to cover Sita’s story made me cry, cringe, smile till my face hurt and cheer from the sidelines.
I have a lot of friends who are first generation children like Sita is. Their parents were born and raised in Korea, India and Russia and I remember visiting their homes or like Sita, never getting to visit them for many of the same reasons Sita doesn’t have friends over. Technically I am one, but since I was adopted it was a bit different for me since my parents are several generations in so I was not raised in this situation. Like many of her other stories, Moha presents another aspect of these kids within a clash of traditional cultures and US culture. How the people, Sitra in this case, finds a balance. Which is why the über religious aspects are completely necessary.
As a young woman in her twenties I dealt with a lot of people who were intolerant of my religious choice, let alone accepting of it. In other words, I related. This book is another one that made me think. It is solid literary women’s literature causing the reader such as me to feel humbled as well as empowered.
For those who may recognize her name, Sita, the protagonist, is based somewhat on the Hindu goddesses epic tale, The Ramayana. The story starts off with her being born unwanted but oblivious from birth on. After all, she is just a little girl and doesn’t know any better. From birth, to toddling, through her discovery of reading and how it saved her through out her adolescence onward. Her character is so filled out the other characters are water color edging with Sita in deep heavy oils in the center. This may bother some folks but since Moha writes with a literary paintbrush, it suits and works with the story. I don’t care of some of the characters though very well developed are not completely filled out, all I want to know is what will happen next.
If you are looking for a smart literary read, which will give you something to think about, make your heart swell with both happiness and grief, pick this up. I cannot recommend it enough! It may not have zombies and a bunch of six-foot horny praying mantises but where it misses out with the make believe monsters, the real monsters of our reality, the good and the bad, are here in spades. A full five stars of delight. Thanks again for a wonderful read, Moha! Now… who wants Curry, Alaskan winter grilled style??
An Unlikely Goddess
by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
on October 14, 2013
Genres: Literary Fiction, Women's Literature
Amazon • • Goodreads •
Winner of the SheWrites New Novelist competition 2011
Sita is the firstborn, but since she is a female child, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrants as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother.
Sita shifts between the vastly different worlds of her WASP dominated school and her father’s insular traditional home. Her journey takes us beneath tales of successful middle class Indians who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s.
The gap between positive stereotypes of South Asian immigrants and the reality of Sita's family, who are struggling to stay above the poverty line is a relatively new theme for Indian literature in English.
Sita's struggles to be American and yet herself, take us deeper into understanding the dilemmas of first generation children, and how religion and culture define women.
Cover design by Law Alsobrook
Cover photography by Guiri R. Reyes
Following reading the review and a recipe make sure you leave a comment for Mohanalakshmi. She will be awarding a free ecopy of An Unlikely Goddess to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
My recipe is something we make a lot of since I love BBQing in the winter. I cut up a huge thing of chicken breasts and throw them in marinate ahead of time and use it it various recipes. Both Geoff and I love cooking things that make us sweat and that taste fantastic. We both are huge fans of various curries from different south Asian cuisines. This is is east meats Alaska… bam!
Alaskan Curry Chicken Skewers
- ½ c. plain yogurt
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp yellow curry powder
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1½ lbs. Polar Bear club Chicken Breast, cubed (boneless & pelt(skin)less
- 1 c. uncooked Jasmine rice
- 2 c. water
- ½ lb. thickly sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 small package of cherry tomatoes cut in halves (or vine clusters)
- 3 green onions, chopped
- Put your bamboo skewers in water in the fridge.
- In a large, shallow dish, mix the yogurt, garlic, curry powder, chili powder, and ginger paste. Spread the chicken over to top of the curry sauce and gently stir to coat. Marinate for 3-4 hours.
- Preheat grill on medium high.
- Alternate chicken and mushrooms onto skewers.
- Prepare your rice (2 cups water, 1 cup rice in salted water.. NOTHING else. Bring to a boil for one minute, cover and reduce heat to medium low and let steam for 20 minutes. Remove from heat but leave lid on till ready to plate your food).
- Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers, turning often, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear.
- In a small bowl toss together your tomatoes and green onions.
- Plating Fluff the rice, lay the skewers over the top of the rice and then top with the tomatoes and green onions.
Grilling is not just for summer in Alaska. With Alaskan winters, grilling is something which can be cooked quick not just because it is cold out but the gas can get the flame actually to hot and inconsistent. Curry makes you warm inside when it is cold outside.
Don’t forget one of my commenters will be picked randomly for a free copy of the book and one commenter tour wide will be picked for a $50 gift card. Tell Moha high and ask her any questions you want her to answer! Also make sure you go check out Shelley Workinger over at “But What Are They Eating” with “Cooking, Curry and Curves” for a traditional fish curry recipe from the author. Also check out the related articles for other great reviews plus the author talking about the book eight months ago.