My Family and Other Saints
A touching, funny, and always affectionate memoir, My Family and Other Saints traces the reverberations of Rahoul's spiritual journey through the entire family. As their beachside Bombay home becomes a crossroads for Westerners seeking Eastern enlightenment, Kirin’s sari-wearing American mother wholeheartedly embraces ashrams and gurus, adopting her son’s spiritual quest as her own. Her Indian father, however, coins the term “urug”—guru spelled backward—to mock these seekers, while young Kirin, surrounded by radiant holy men, parents drifting apart, and a motley of young, often eccentric Westerners, is left to find her own answers. Deftly recreating the turbulent emotional world of her bicultural adolescence, but overlaying it with the hard-won understanding of adulthood, Narayan presents a large, rambunctious cast of quirky characters. Throughout, she brings to life not just a family but also a time when just about everyone, it seemed, was consumed by some sort of spiritual quest.
“A lovely book about the author's youth in Bombay, India. . . . The family home becomes a magnet for truth-seekers, and Narayan is there to affectionately document all of it.”—Body + Soul
1. Gods’ Eyes
2. Crazy Saints
3. The Seven-Horned Mountain
4. Blind Blue Heavens, Pure Blue Light
5. Fused Doubles
7. Gurus and Urugs
8. Mrs. Contractor’s Eldest Unmarried Daughter
10. The Moon Pearl
11. At the Border
12. Twin Goddess
List of illustrations
“My Family and Other Saints echoes Gerald Durrell’s classic memoir, My Family and Other Animals, not only in its title, but in its wonderful humor and lyrical prose. Like Durrell, Kirin Narayan takes the reader to a fascinating world far from our own, and brings to life its myriad sights, sounds and smells, while revealing the profound cultural beliefs of its people. India is just the most complex character among a cast of characters—family members, gurus, hippies, and neighbors—all of whom I now count as old friends.”--Judith Barrington, author of Lifesaving: A Memoir and Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art
"An engrossing account of a childhood spent with Indian gurus and their American disciples. Enlightenment and growing up are tossed together in the riotous and tender household presided over by Didi, Narayan, and an extended circle of family and friends. Kirin Narayan's impressive gifts of memory, imagination, and storytelling carry us into this unexpected world of 'crazy saints;' the journey is so much fun that it's hard to put the book down."
"Narayan has created a portrait of [her family] that is realistic in its depiction of their flaws and foibles but generous and always loving. . . . Narayan . . . finds the wonder and joy in her family's journey and presents it to us with insight and grace."