Tanima Kazi on Writing her Debut Chick Lit — ‘How to Escape an Arranged Marriage in High Heels’

by BG Staff

Tanima Kazi’s debut novel  “How to Escape an Arranged Marriage in High Heels” follows the story of an Indian-American runaway bride on the day of her wedding.

Set in Chicago, we follow the hapless, homeless bride as she tries to navigate the new world of finding employment, housing and a sense of self-worth.

“I think all women have this pressure to be married,” Kazi said when asked about the inspiration to write a chick lit. “The South Asian culture is more specific about who they want you to marry.  So I wanted to write a story that addressed the confusion that came along with this pressure.”

Arranged marriage is by no means a new concept. According to UNICEF, 90 percent of marriages in India are arranged.  What’s even more shocking is that 60 percent of all marriages in the world are still arranged. It’s no wonder that Bollywood films churn out wistful themes of love versus duty when it comes to getting hitched.

What sets this novel slightly apart is the tone and humor the author injects into this age-old topic. Taking a cue from the chick lit genre, Kazi writes in first person about the misadventures of Indian-American heroine Maya Khan.

“The huge theme of this novel is her juggling the two cultures and realizing there is no perfect combination and at the end you have to do what makes you happy,” Kazi said. “There are wonderful things in her culture that she respects and there are things in the American culture that she wants to incorporate into her life.”

[Enter to win a copy of the novel here: Tanima Kazi’s ‘How to Escape an Arranged Marriage in High Heels’— A Refreshing Take on Chick Lit Novels]

On relating to South Asian culture, Kazi said:

“It was hard for me to disappoint my family. They raised me, loved me and wanted the best for me.  But at the end of the day, if you are unhappy, you cannot make the people around you happy.”

The novel is built around Maya Khan, a 26-year-old young woman with no real career or direction. Forced to take stock of her life on the day of her wedding, she realizes that she wants more than an existence filled with obligation.

“The main character is very resilient,” Kazi said. “I believe the book showcases that though optimism and sheer determination you can overcome any obstacle. Maya has flaws, she makes mistakes, and she is not innocent.  The book showcases her confrontations with her family, her friends, and her colleagues. All of these confrontations are necessary because she is building herself up and building her place in society.”

What follows is a series of Lucille-Ball like calamities. The Ethel to Maya’s Lucy, is street-smart, high school BFF Angie Wesley. Angie brings a much-needed voice of reason to Maya’s over-the-top starry-eyed proclamations.

It’s precisely this honest and genuine tone that saves Kazi’s novel from being another clichéd chick lit novel, where the heroine is only in search of her one true love.

As for advice for young women, Kazi said:

“Don’t give up if you don’t know what your path is, keep educating yourself, keep reading, you’ll eventually find your path, there is no rush.”

For more information about Kazi and her work, including where you can purchase her debut novel, visit www.tanimakaziwriter.com.


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