The Woman Who Climbed Trees
Represented by Stephanie Cabot
A young bride must leave her life in India behind when she moves to Nepal with her new husband and his family in this incandescent, poignant debut novel which examines the sorrow and deep sense of loss experienced when we abandon our former selves and our dreams.
“Is this a ghost story?” Meena asked the barber’s wife who told the tale. “I don’t want to hear scary stories one night before I marry.”
“Not all ghost stories are scary,” said the barber’s wife, laughing at Meena. “Besides, we have a long time before us, and stories are little baskets to carry time away in.”
Exquisitely written, a blend of ghost stories, myths, and song, The Woman Who Climbed Trees is a haunting, deeply felt multi-generational story that illuminates the transitional nature of women’s lives and the feeling of loss they experience, as they give up one home and family to become part of another.
When she marries a man from Nepal, Meena must leave behind her family and home in India and forge a new identity in a strange place. The Woman Who Climbed Trees follows her, the women who surround her, and the daughter she eventually raises, as they carefully navigate the uncertain tides of their diasporic lives. Smriti Ravindra beautifully captures these women’s pain and nostalgia for the past—of a country left behind, of innocence lost, of a former self, of dreams forsaken.
“Most women live diasporic lives. The very fact that societal structures expect women to leave their biological homes and enter the homes and identities of their husbands mean that homesickness and nostalgia for a life once lived, or dreams once held close, are realities for most women,” Ravindra explains. “This was true for my mother too. All her life, living in Kathmandu, she longed for India. Given the cultural, geographical and religious proximity of Nepal and India, her yearning sometimes seemed ridiculous, and it took me time to understand that the longing was not only for a country left behind, but for another time and other possibilities.”
“The Woman Who Climbed Trees is a lyrical, furious triumph of a novel, mapping the marital journey of its protagonist, Meena, from girlhood to motherhood, from India to Nepal, from prosaic reality to magical madness. In the tradition of Salman Rushdie and Isabelle Allende, Smriti Ravindra braids epic lore and myth to a narrative of claustrophobic domesticity, earthly damage, and incandescent love.”
— Maria Dahvana Headley, New York Times bestselling author of Beowulf: A New Translation and The Mere Wife