Title: Salaam, Paris
Author: Kavita Daswani
Release Date: June 27, 2006
Genre: Chick Lit, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Tanaya Shah longs for the wonderful world of Paris – the world that she feel in love with while watching Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina – so when a proposal comes along for an arranged marriage with a man who is living in Paris, Tanaya seizes the chance to leave her traditional Muslim family and her home in India. But once she lands in the city, she shuns the match. A stroke of luck turns Tanaya into a supermodel, and soon the traditional girl is cavorting with rock stars and is disowned by her family…
If it seems like the book summary above ends awkwardly and abruptly, you’re very perceptive. I felt like the summary on the back of the book gave away too much information (a pet peeve of mine), so I decided to omit the last few sentences. Take that as a warning if you pick up this book and glance at the back cover.
Salaam, Paris is a coming of age, east-meets-west story. Tanaya feels trapped by her conservative Muslim culture, and while she doesn’t want to rebel and holds her values very dear, she feels like she has to be free, even if just for a little while. Unfortunately, even that little amount of freedom translates to disaster in the eyes of her family. It is clear that Tanaya’s family is important to her. Even when she is a supermodel, Tanaya might bend her values but refuses to break them for the sake of her wildly successful career. She is a great role model for younger girls.
One thing that disappointed me about Salaam, Paris was its lack of depth. While it showed a lot of promise, everything seemed to be on the surface. Tanaya never explores her culture, never really comes to terms with what it means to be Muslim in the fashion world. On the other hand, those interested in a fashion insider’s look don’t really have much to go on here either. While it is an enjoyable novel, I feel like Daswani really lost an opportunity by not delving deeper into at least one of these two areas.
Salaam, Paris is the fourth Kavita Daswani novel I’ve read, and definitely is the most disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book by any means. Like her other novels, it is an enjoyable, light, chick-lit romp with a multicultural twist. But its sheer lack of believability (which sometimes can be a good thing if you’re in the mood to suspend disbelief) and superficial quality keep the novel at a lower level. Still, if you enjoy multicultural chick lit, this book is an easy read that you will probably enjoy.