Lina Ray has a knack for pairing up perfect couples as a professional matchmaker in San Francisco, but her well-meaning, highly traditional Indian family wants her to get married. When her Auntie Kiki introduces Lina to the bachelor from hell at her sister's wedding in India, Lina panics and blurts out, "I'm engaged!" Because what's the harm in a little lie?
Who's sari now?
Lina scrambles to find a real fiancé because Auntie Kiki will be coming to America soon to approve the match. But date after disastrous date gets her no closer to her prince -- until an actual prince arrives on her doorstep. Lina hasn't been able to stop fantasizing about traditional but dashing Raja Prasad since she met him in India. In fact, her imaginary fiancé has begun to resemble him! Now Raja is in San Francisco and wants Lina to find a suitable bride for his brother. Though they live oceans apart, Lina longs to bridge the gap. But when her fantastic fib catches up with her, life is suddenly like a Bollywood flick gone horribly wrong. Lina may have an over-developed fantasy life, but she certainly never imagined things would turn out like this!
Reading Group Guide
- In Imaginary Men, matchmaker and protagonist Lina Ray is an Indian-American woman who seems to embrace American culture more than her traditional Indian culture. In fact, our narrator's first words are: "I'm allergic to India." What are her reasons for rejecting the exotic Indian lifestyle?
- In another instance, Lina speaks somewhat fondly of India saying, "Yet my soul connects to this strange, colorful, hot, smelly, magical country, even though I don't remember it." Discuss this conflict of sorts between the enchantment of her birth country, India, and "the easy life in America." How does this conflict become more complex once Raja Prasad enters the picture?
- Everyone in Lina's family seems to be conspiring to marry her off, especially since she's the oldest of the three sisters. Why do you think such an emphasis is placed on marriage? Are there similarities between American and Indian attitudes toward women and marriage? How does Lina feel about arranged marriages? Her family?
- As a matchmaker, Lina claims she has "an uncanny ability to see connections between potential mates, like silvery threads" (page 5). Discuss the irony of a matchmaker who cannot find a suitable match for herself.
- The caste system in India separates members of its society based on class. Typically the class that you are born into is the class in which you will remain until death. So w