“Elizabeth Flock takes us on an intimate cruise on the shifting sea of the heart, in the best book set in Bombay that I’ve read in years. Flock’s total access to her characters, and her highly sympathetic and nonjudgmental gaze, prove that love and literature know no borders. Easily the most intimate account of India that I’ve read, and of value to anybody that believes in love and marriage.”—Suketu Mehta, composer of Maximum City
“This remarkable debut is so deeply reported, elegantly written, and profoundly transporting that it reads like a novel you can’t put down. It’s both a nuanced and intimate evocation of Indian culture, and a provocative and exciting meditation on marriage itself.”—Katie Roiphe, composer of The Violet Hour
In the vein of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a romantic, profoundly reported and examination that is revelatory of, marriage, and the state of modern India—as witnessed through the lives of three very different couples in today’s Mumbai.
In twenty-first-century India, tradition is colliding with Western culture, a clash that touches the lives of everyday Indians from the wealthiest to the poorest. While ethnicity, class, and religion are influencing the nation’s development, so too are pop culture and technology—an uneasy fusion whose impact is most evident in the institution of marriage.
The Heart Is a Shifting Sea introduces three couples whose relationships illuminate these sweeping cultural shifts in dramatic ways: Veer and Maya, a forward-thinking couple that is professional union is tested by Maya’s wish to have self-reliance; Shahzad and Sabeena, whose desperation for a young child becomes entwined because of the changing face of Islam; and Ashok and Parvati, whose arranged wedding, permitted by an on-line matchmaker, blossoms into real love. Though these three middle-class couples are in various phases inside their everyday lives and originate from diverse spiritual backgrounds, their tales build on a single another to provide a layered, nuanced, and fascinating mosaic regarding the universal challenges, opportunities, and vow of matrimony in its ongoing state.
Elizabeth Flock has observed the evolving state of India from inside Mumbai, its biggest metropolis. She invested near to ten years observing these couples—listening for their tales and located in their domiciles, where she had been aware of countless moments of marital joy, inescapable frustration, dramatic upheaval, and whispered confessions and secrets. The result is a phenomenal feat of reportage that is both an enthralling portrait of a nation in the middle of change and an unforgettable consider the universal secrets of love and wedding that link all of us.