Tamarind Mem

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A beautiful and brilliant portrait of two generations of women. Set in India’s railway colonies, this is the story of Kamini and her mother Saroja, nicknamed Tamarind Mem due to her sour tongue. While in Canada beginning her graduate studies, Kamini receives a postcard from her mother saying she has sold their home and is travelling through India. Both are forced into the past to confront their dreams and losses and to explore the love that binds mothers and daughters everywhere.


I called my mother every Sunday from the silence of my basement apartment, reluctant to tell her how I yearned to get away from this freezing cold city where even the traffic sounds were muffled by the snow.

“Well, who asked you to go?” Ma would have demanded. “Did somebody tie your hands behind...
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1. Before commencing the story itself, Badami provides this definition of the tamarind tree: “Folklore has it that the tamarind tree is the home of spirits that do not let anything under the tree survive.Accordingly, travelers are advised not to sleep in its shade. The tamarind tree is never used for auspicious...

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“A tremendous achievement -- a skillful and compassionate family saga that is personal, intimate, tender and revealing.” -- The Globe and Mail

“Intoxicating … an ambitious sweep of storytelling about family, about memory, about myth and history and the infinite interpretability of relationships.” -- Ottawa Citizen

“An engaging depiction of a daughter’s longing to know her mother and of our tendency to see things the way we want rather than the way they are.” -- Calgary Herald

Tamarind Mem’s strength is in its depiction of family tensions, the elusiveness of memories and how dreams and disappointments are passed from one generation to the next as if they were family heirlooms.” -- The Gazette (Montreal)

"An exciting addition to the burgeoning tradition of Indo-Canadian writing that includes Rohinton Mistry, M.G. Vassanji and Shyam Selvadurai." -- Maclean's

"Badami weaves a tale of bittersweet nostalgia in her first novel, imbuing her descriptions of Indian domestic life with achingly palpable details as she explores all the small ceremonies that make family life so simultaneously rich and infuriating... A delectable book." -- Quill & Quire (starred review)

"This novel is a beauty... An absolute delight to read." -- Indian Review of Books

"A powerful story... it allows daughter and mother to each speak for herself, and the resulting ironies and differing perspectives make for a richly textured work." -- Books in Canada

"It is a book brimming over with smells, sounds and colours, putting the reader so firmly in place and time that you feel you are there. All in all, a lovely piece of work." -- The Washington Post