Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
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By Nikita Lalwani


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Format: Hardback

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Gifted by Nikita Lalwani

Book Awards

  • Winner of Desmond Elliott Prize 2008.
  • Shortlisted for Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2008.
  • Shortlisted for Costa First Novel Award 2007.

Book Description

Numbers have filled Rumi Vasi's world since she first learned to count. But it was on a trip to India at the age of 8 that her mathematical powers acquired their almost supernatural significance. When she returned home to Cardiff her destiny was sealed: she was now, and would forever be, the town's 'maths prodigy'. At 14 Rumi is firmly set on the path of a gifted child, speeding headlong towards Oxford University. As her father sees it, discipline is everything if the family has any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country. However, as Rumi gets older and the family's stark isolation intensifies, numbers start to lose their magic for the young teenager: she abandons the rigid timetable of her afternoons to seek out friendship and replaces equations with rampant spice abuse. As her longing for love and her parents' will to succeed deepen so too does the rift between generations."Gifted" captures brilliantly the battle to come of age in an emotional and comic hinterland, where histories, arithmetic and cumin seeds all play a part. In a voice that is by turns very funny and fiercely acute Nikita Lalwani brings vividly to life a young family's search for recognition and how that search can break a family apart. This is a story of high aspirations and deep desires, and of the sometime loneliness of childhood. 'Gifted' is a dazzling debut.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780670917075
ISBN-10: 0670917079
Format: Hardback
(241mm x 161mm x 29mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Viking
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 28-Jun-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Books By Author Nikita Lalwani


US Kirkus Review » Excruciating ordeal of a math prodigy pressured by her father to enter Oxford.Rumi is the daughter of Shreene and Mahesh Vasi, Indian immigrants to Cardiff, Wales. Ever since her first elementary-school teacher heralded Rumi's gift for mathematics, Mahesh, a lecturer at the University of Wales, has been grooming his child for academic stardom. After a perceived snub by the local Mensa chapter, Mahesh designs a grueling study schedule for Rumi that occupies all her free time and enhances her isolation from her "normal" peers. As she crams for her college entrance exams - while a freshman in high school - Rumi, unbeknownst to her traditionalist parents, nurses some teenage crushes and accompanying heartaches. First there's Bridgeman, a chess-club and stamp-collecting geek, who undergoes a growth and "cool" spurt seemingly overnight. During a trip to India, a Bollywood-handsome cousin flirts with her by night then, for fear of his own parents, ignores her by day. Rumi's enforced regime causes her to develop some compensatory tics. As a child, she shoplifts sweets. As a teenager, she devours epic quantities of cumin seeds. But mostly her interior life is a seething cauldron of hormones and humiliation. Her developing puberty is viewed with alarm by her parents, who won't tolerate premarital friendships with boys. Nevertheless, Mahesh thrusts Rumi into the sophisticated, diverse ambience of Oxford, if only for two days a week, under the chaperonage of an Indian landlady. Her math diligence derailed by her longing for masculine attention, Rumi sneaks out of a child-prodigy convention to attend a campus party where she encounters Fareed. Their mutual infatuation screeches to a halt when Fareed learns, through the plentiful press on Rumi, that she's only 15. But when Mahesh, whose family was devastated by Muslim violence during Partition, finds Rumi's love notes to a Muslim, his roles as mentor and Hindu paterfamilias collide, risking the violent sundering of his own fragile hearth.Lalwani's impressive debut exhibits deep empathy for her characters' cultural and emotional displacements. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Nikita Lalwani

Nikita Lalwani was born in Kota, Rajasthan in 1973 and raised in Cardiff. After several years of directing factual television and documentaries at the BBC, she has returned to writing fiction. Gifted is her first novel. She lives in London.

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