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Love Marriage Reader’s Guide

By V. V. Ganeshananthan

Love Marriage by V. V. Ganeshananthan


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. At the beginning of the novel, Yalini befriends and then breaks off her friendship with an unnamed male. What do you think draws her to him in the first place? Why does she break off the friendship? What does the relationship tell you about her character?

2. There are several obvious doubles in the novel–Yalini and Janani, Kunju and Tharshi, Murali and Kumaran. Why do you think pairs are so important? How do these relationships compare and relate to each other? Can you think of any other significant pairs?

3. Why do you think Ganeshananthan chooses to write in fragmented vignettes?

4. Father-daughter relationships are important to this book. How does Murali and Yalini’s relationship compare with Kumaran and Janani’s relationship? How is Yalini’s budding relationship with Kumaran different from her relationship with Murali?

5. Yalini describes her family as “globe-scattered” (3). How is setting important in the novel? What do you see as the places that are most important to Yalini’s family story? How, in particular, is Toronto significant? Jaffna? America?

6. Violence plays a large part in this story–some incidents are personal, some political, and some accidental. Yalini’s great-grandfather’s murder, various sets of ethnic riots, the violence between Rajan and Harini, and the burns suffered by Kunju all mark milestones in the novel. How do incidents of emotional violence accomplish something similar? Do they?

7. When she meets Kumaran, Yalini becomes the unofficial family historian. Later, she says that, in order to do so, she had to learn to think in the first person. Why is it so important to Yalini to tell her family’s story?

8. Why do you think Ganeshananthan chooses the title Love Marriage? How is it important to each of the relationships that she writes about?

9. After trying several times to stop Janani’s wedding, Yalini comes to a realization. She says: “She was doing it for him, because she thought he would want to see tradition preserved, if not in the form of a Tamil country, then in the form of a Tamil daughter” (265). Do you agree with Yalini about Janani’s motivations? How do they set her apart from Yalini? Do you believe that this is what Kumaran wanted for his daughter?

10. Even after the attack on the wedding site, Janani still marries Suthan. How does this choice affect or implicate Yalini in political violence?

11. At the end of the novel, Yalini asks herself whether she, if faced with the same situations as Kumaran and Janani, would have acted similarly, saying: “governments call men terrorists to erase their reason, to make them crazy. Some of them are, and some of them are not. What does that make me?” (272). How do you think Yalini comes to terms with Kumaran’s actions? Do you think she too would have joined the Tigers had she not lived in America?

12. Tharshi’s daughter Uma does not fit into the marriage categories that Yalini lays out on the first page. Instead, Tharshi says that her daughter was “Too Special to Get Married.” Later, Yalini confesses that she has much of Uma in her. Do you think that Yalini will ever get married? Or is she, also, Too Special?

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