Jump to Atlanta in 2016. Deepa’s thoroughly American granddaughter Shan knows almost nothing of her past, but she knows her present is falling apart, following a miscarriage and the realization her husband is a narcissistic gambling addict.
Enjeti makes many such jump cuts in time and locale, and they can be jarring, as they frequently are with this type of narrative structure, until they start to fall into place.
An older neighbor befriends Shan and offers her the comforting elder wisdom and connection to her roots Shan doesn’t know she needs until she starts receiving it.
Shan realizes her identity has become “defined by the holes family members left behind” and sets out to fill those holes. After much research, travel and serendipity, she learns what happened to Deepa and her Delhi boyfriend, and the sacrifices her ancestors made for her and others.
“Every family has untold stories buried in the fog of the past,” says Henry Louis Gates Jr. on his PBS series “Finding Your Roots.” Through Shan’s diligence, the fog is dispelled and Deepa’s full story is told. Being told, it can be properly valued. The jumpy structure pays off, and we see the whole tapestry, and it is well-woven.
“The Parted Earth”
by Anjali Enjeti
Hub City Press
254 pages. $26