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Debut Novel Opens to Rave Reviews

In a world where club presidents have difficulty recruiting a mere 30 students to attend a speaker event, the 90-person turnout for Vineeta Vijayaraghavan’s reading of her newly published book Motherland was impressive. I’d like to think the turnout was due to superior marketing on the part of the Women’s Student Association that co-sponsored the event with Section C. Or to a renewed interest in women’s issues. But no – the draw was Vineeta. With great poise, Vineeta read an excerpt of her novel to a silent and attentive audience in Spangler’s Coop. The novel features a 15-year-old Indian-American girl who returns to India for the summer to discover her motherland. Vivid descriptions of satin saris and curry leaves rushed many of us into a world we had never before experienced; for others, Vineeta’s tender portrayal of family customs brought I’ve-been-there smiles and laughter.
Although I consider myself a great intellect (no laughter from Section OF please), other great minds agree that Vineeta’s first novel is powerful and compelling. Henry Louis Gates Jr. writes, “Motherland positively sparkles with grace and tenderness. Vineeta Vijayaraghavan is a powerful new voice in American fiction.” Amazon.com’s bestseller list currently ranks Motherland as the most popular read at Massachusetts universities, and 11th most popular among Bostonians in general.
For those who missed the festivities, Vineeta will conduct two more readings in Boston as well as readings in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia over the next several weeks. For those who want to get it signed by her personally, good luck tracking her down. Vineeta intimated during a Q&A session that she has “other projects” she is currently working on. I guess stealth mode reaches across all industries and professions.
Editors’ Note: Next week the Harbus will review Vineeta’s book. Also watch out for her interview in coming issues!

February 12, 2001
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