A Novel

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Rumi Vasi is 10 years, 4 months, 13 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 6 seconds old. She’s figured that the likelihood of her walking home from school with the boy she likes, John Kemble, is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy dress and thick wool tights her father, an Indian émigré, forces her to wear. Rumi is a gifted child, and her father believes that strict discipline is the key to nurturing her genius if the family has any hope of making a mark on its adoptive country.

Four years later, a teenage Rumi is at the center of an intense campaign by her parents to make her one of the youngest students ever to attend Oxford University. Yet Rumi is growing up like any normal teen, and her mind often drifts to potent distractions. . . .

Praise for Gifted:

“Arresting . . . [a] coming-of-age story full of the mingled love and anger that animate families of every culture . . . [Gifted] calls to mind the work of such novelists as Zadie Smith and Monica Ali.”
The Washington Post Book World

“Lalwani has a talent for pacing and surprise, and her novel is a page-turner. . . . [She] infuses all her characters with humanity, and that makes Gifted a layered and nuanced story about the choices a family (immigrant or not) makes for a gifted child.”
Chicago Tribune

“Engaging . . . Rumi is entertaining and likeable even at her angriest and most confused. And despite her cloistered life, she is also wise, knowing that her early start in college succeeded only in robbing her of her youth.”

“Poignant . . . [Lalwani] gets deep inside hyper-wound-up math prodigy Rumi Vasi.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Superb . . . brilliantly realized . . . The searing narrative . . . is unflinchingly and tenderly written.”
The Independent (U.K.)

“Deeply felt . . . In this penetrating coming-of-age debut . . . Rumika Vasi struggles to fulfill her mathematical gifts and her family’s demands on them, while also finding friendship and romance.”
Publishers Weekly




Chapter 1

Mahesh is sitting in his office, marking. He looks up at the arc of the window as a train rushes past, its urgency left behind in diesel scent and echoing clacks. The dank hush of autumn is settling into his room like a foregone conclusion. It is the eleventh season of its kind in his experience in...
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1. How does Rumi’s focus on mathematics influence the structure of the novel and the way she processes the world?

2. Shreene’s sister in India tells her she was “always the lucky one.” Would you characterize Shreene as lucky? What are the grounds for Shreene’s discontent and “...

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“Nikita Lalwani’s poignant, vivid debut beautifully describes the dramas of growing up. Her keen-eyed observations highlight what it means to be young, gifted and Asian and the way those three things can be a source of both pride and prejudice.” – Marie Claire

“Observant, witty and stylistically original. . . . The novel is a winner.” —The Bookseller

“Not the least of Nikita Lalwani’s achievements in this superb debut novel lies in her ability to present the tragedy of a gifted second-generation immigrant girl within the framework of larger throes: the conflict and isolation of strangers ina strange land, carrying the wounds of Partition. . . . The novel is especially memorable for its sensuous power. Lalwani not only knows her characters’ minds: she is able to record, in wincing detail, events within their very mouths.” —The Independent

“[A] charming rite-of-passage novel. . . . Lalwani’s evocation of teenage dislocation is pitch-perfect and she inhabits her heroine’s interior world with tender authority.” —The Guardian

“The novel’s triumph is in elucidating the hurt of both child and parents. . . . Rules abound in the world of mathematics, but Lalwani compellingly depicts the pain and pleasure of breaking the rules.” —New Statesman

“The main characters are well-drawn, pulling the reader into their inner lives as Lalwani powerfully evokes the loneliness of adolescence and the awfulness of being newly away from home and out of one’s depth.” —Daily Mail

“Nikita Lalwani does a good job of getting inside Rumi’s mind, as we journey with her from the innocent child with a love of numbers to a frustrated teen, addicted to chewing raw cumin seeds and trying to grow up in a family that won’t let her.” —The Times

“[Lalwani] conveys the confusions of Rumi’s developing body and mind with charm and warmth . . . and pinpoints with genuine insight the bewilderment and anguish of a young woman marked out from her peers.” —The Sunday Times

“A triumph. . . . Fluid, original, clever, glitteringly vivid, funny. . . . All the conventional pieties and forms of Indian immigrant identity and trauma are so wittily pre-empted; and yet there’s a sure grasp, at the serious core of the novel, of the deep reverberations of politics and history.” —Tessa Hadley, author of Accidents in the Home

“This is an outstanding piece of writing – rich, vivid, fluent and well paced with a wonderful cast of well developed engaging characters and a constantly surprising storyline.” —Gerard Woodward, author of I’ll Go to Bed at Noon

From the Hardcover edition.