Indian People Smell like Rice and Curry

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Houston: Indian Americans have to deal with people who tell them they smell like rice and curry. Indian Americans have been asked if they know the Indian people who work at the gas station down the street. If Indian people would eat the cow they wouldn’t starve.

Leena Ceraveeni’s debut novel, The Hometown, documents the racial experiences of an Indian girl born and raised in Indiana. Each chapter of The Hometown focuses on a different racial experience when 23-year-old Mala Thomas packs up her Acura Vigor and makes an impulsive move to Houston.

In Houston, she doesn’t get questioned about being Indian. The South is very different from the Midwest and Mala can’t take the word “y’all” seriously. On her career path, she lands a job in the energy industry and falls for work-obsessed Cyril, a Creole who works in her office building.

The death of the sister she can’t remember, her love for ’80s rock, and her past racial experiences follow her everywhere she goes.