This query is part of the Be an Agent for a Day contest. Rules and Regulations here
Please post your rejection or manuscript request in the comment section!
Dear Agent for a Day,
Have you ever wondered why rhetorical questions seldom involve jelliquariums?
This is my first novel, DADI’S GAME. It takes place on two coasts and three continents, including modern-day San Francisco and pre-Independence Bombay, spanning five generations.
Half American, half Indian journalist Raven is laid off from her job right before her previously estranged grandmother, Dadi, dies. Unsure of her future, Raven travels from California to Bombay with her bratty cousin Malvika to learn more about her father’s country and her grandmother’s past.
As they interview relatives, the women learn that Dadi, whom they remember as religious and puritanical, had lived a surprisingly rich life, traveling the globe and participating in India’s struggle for independence alongside her husband.
The cousins’ curiosity leads them north from Bombay, with a stopover at the Ganges to dispose of Dadi’s remains, to meet a former servant who lives in the Himalayan foothills. The woman, whom Dadi called Didi, meaning “sister,” recalls an unconsummated relationship with a British tennis partner that haunted Dadi throughout her life.
Dadi’s conflict is with herself. Steeped in tradition and competing with the idealized women of Hindu mythology, most notably Kunti, she struggles even as a widow with her marriage, since Hindu wedding ceremonies bind couples for not one lifetime, but seven.
While Raven discovers no jelliquariums along the way, there are puzzles hidden within the text, one relating to the story and the other a purely mathematical game. The initial clue to this aspect of the novel is written in iambic riddles on the first page. “Dadi’s Game” is an equivoque.
This novel may appear at first glance like “The Joy Luck Club” meets “The Namesake,” since its first-person narrative is told from the perspectives of Rekha, Malvika and Didi. Despite that, the story has more in common with A.S. Byatt’s “Possession.” If you are familiar with the Indian tale of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” or the story of “The Lady and the Tiger,” those apply here as well.
The book would fall under the genres of historical fiction and women’s fiction, since much of the novel’s action takes place in the 1930s-1950s and the story touches on women’s issues that change with the times, such as Havelock Ellis’ ideas on birth control in 1930s Britain.
I queried you first because your MySpace page says you enjoy books that take place in far-off places and that you wish you had represented verse-lover Vikram Seth. Plus, there’s a tennis tournament in the novel that might appeal to the sports fan in you.
As for my qualifications, my grandparents were both active participants in the “Quit India” movement during the country’s struggle for Independence. My grandfather was imprisoned by the British, and I grew up on stories from those years.
I travel between India and the United States regularly, and have spent enough time in Europe on stopovers to have favorite restaurants and neighborhoods. My last trip to India was in November, when I was there for the Bombay terror attacks. I have no mathematical qualifications, but the math in this story is not complex; I would say the game can be understood with an elementary-school education.
Thank you for taking the time to read my query.
STATS: 11% request rate