Debby DiMartino: saved from death in infancy by Gray Nuns at an Indian desert outpost; adopted as a toddler by Manfred and Serena DiMartino of Schenectady, New York; coming of age an inherently exotic girl in an inherently American town, never sure if she was someone special or just a special kind of misfit. Now, at twenty-three, she’s decided that it’s time to find out: time to track down her biological parents. She knows only the barest facts about them: her mother was a California flower child; her father, an “Asian national” serving life in an Indian prison for murder. She knows that they were “lousy people who’d considered me lousier still and who’d left me to be sniffed at by wild dogs, like a carcass in the mangy shade.” Her only inheritance from them is a literally haunting past (“white-hot sky and burnt-black leaves ... star bursts of yearning”), but now she wants revenge too. “When you inherit nothing, you are entitled to everything,” Debby says as she leaves home for San Francisco, where, if she can’t find her mother, she suspects she can appropriate what she needs. Yet, once there, living the life of her newly named persona, Devi Dee (“Tenderloin prowler, all allure and strength and zero innocence”), she senses that she may have inherited more than she imagined: a legacy of shocking idea and impulse begins to reveal itself as Debby/Devi focuses her sights on the woman who may be her “bio-mom,” or just a dangerously unprepared proxy.
Bharati gives an overview of the book:
Of Bengali origin, Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India. She later traveled with her parents to Europe after Independence, only returning to Calcutta in the early 1950s. There she attended the Loreto School, Kolkata. She received her Bachelor of Arts...