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Biography & Autobiography Cultural Heritage

May It Have a Happy Ending

A Memoir of Finding My Voice as My Mother Lost Hers

by (author) Minelle Mahtani

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Oct 2024
Cultural Heritage, Death, Grief, Bereavement, Multiracial Families
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2024
    List Price

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For readers of Crying in H Mart and In the Dream House, a searing, intimate and blisteringly honest memoir about mothers and daughters, grief and healing, and finding your voice.

Minelle Mahtani had taken a leap of faith. A new mother in a new life, she'd moved across the country for love, and soon found herself facing the exciting and terrifying prospect of hosting her own radio show. But as she began to find her place in the majority white newsroom, she was handed devastating news: her Iranian mother had been diagnosed with tongue cancer.

Just as Minelle was finding her voice, her mother was losing hers.

What does it mean to amplify the voices of others while the stories of your ancestors are being buried in your mother's mouth? Why do we cling to superstition and luck when we’ve lost all faith in healing those we love? And how do we juggle bearing the burden of looking after an ill parent when we are trying to parent our own children?

In exquisitely lyrical and inventive prose, Mahtani recounts the experience so many of us recognize: a life calibrated through calculating when to speak and when to be silent in a world that feels like it forces us to be broken.

About the author

Minelle Mahtani is an associate professor in the Department of Human Geography and the Program in Journalism at the University of Toronto-Scarborough. She is past president of the Association for Canadian Studies, 2011 Winner of the Glenda Laws Award from the Association of American Geographers, and a former national television journalist at the CBC.

Minelle Mahtani's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"May It Have a Happy Ending stilled me with its lyrical voice. A powerful account of personal struggles and loss, it is also a book that energizes and nourishes, a book radiant with loving intimacy. Minelle Mahtani is a writer of inspiring courage, wisdom and talent." —David Chariandy, bestselling and award-winning author of Brother and I've Been Meaning To Tell You

"A breathtaking mix of memoir, generational healing and invitations to examine our commitment to social justice. Through her gift of storytelling, Minelle Mahtani successfully elicits understanding around how the body is intricately woven with our ancestral history and lived experience. May It Have a Happy Ending speaks for many of us who have not had a voice and holds a vision for a new way—one that I am deeply grateful for." —Asha Frost, Indigenous Healer and bestselling author of You Are the Medicine
"It's clear from Mahtani's prose that she has spent time in front of a microphone: Her voice is perfectly calibrated to draw you in, tell you a story, and—like the most skilled interviewers—crack you open. The title of the book invokes an ending, but by the time I got there, I didn't want it to be over. I was too beguiled by the sharp, funny self-analysis of Mahtani's work as a radio host; her probing reflections on her bond with her mother; the tension and tenderness with which she recounts her professional rise as her mother's health declines. I tore through it. May It Have a Happy Ending delivers a cathartic experience with incredible vocal range." —Tajja Isen, author of Some of My Best Friends

"A lyrical exploration of grief and loss and family and race and what makes good radio. Original and moving, a passionate reminder of why stories are important." —Don Gillmor, bestselling and award-winning author of To the River and Breaking and Entering

"Minelle Mahtani's debut is an enthralling and moving meditation on love and loss. Pulsing with the rhythm of life, this book is a gift to the grieving, yet also a 'teaspoon of prayer' for those who remember the complicated, challenging wisdom of elders. Mahtani's engaging storytelling and the substance of her experiences will resonate with readers long after the pages of the book are closed." —Timothy Taylor, award-winning author of Stanley Park and The Rise and Fall of Magic Wolf

"There is a phrase in Farsi, delam barāt tang shode—your absence constricts my heart. Mahtani's voice resounds with this lyric longing, sonic in clarity and replete with tenderness; a quiver and catch in lines that makes the experience of reading breathlessly real and desperately relatable. I devoured this beautiful book. A must-read." —Hollay Ghadery, award-winning author of Fuse and Rebellion Box

"When our parents die, to whom do we belong? In May It Have a Happy Ending, Minelle Mahtani chronicles the ways in which our bodies can hold our parents' truths. A propulsive meditation on the transcendent bond between mother and daughter, the memoir unpacks what it means to honour the plurality of our stories as mixed people. In the roar of her mother's deafening silence, Mahtani finds an enduring voice connecting their narrative to past, present and future." —Emi Sasagawa, author of Atomweight

"Minelle Mahtani writes with confidence and grace, welcoming readers into an intimate, nonlinear narrative about finding herself while losing her mother. This is a memoir about the pain and unexpected beauty of contradictions. By turns impressionistic and incisive, May It Have a Happy Ending is a tender, fluid book about love, grief and identity." —Seyward Darby, author of Sisters in Hate and Editor in Chief of The Atavist Magazine

"This is a gorgeous book—beautifully written, fiercely honest and alive with a rare mix of anger and indignation, compassion and kindness. It is destined to endure." —William Green, bestselling author of Richer, Wiser, Happier

"The uneven grief of losing our parents. The failed scramble for perfection. The questions that remained unspoken or may not have been the right ones to ask. In this beautiful memoir, Mahtani makes meaning from the gaps and fissures, the places where we're most uncertain. Both a search for our stifled voices and an embrace of what can't be said, May It Have a Happy Ending is a reach for the stories that will carry us into the future." —Julietta Singh, author of The Breaks and No Archive Will Restore You, and Professor of English and Stephanie Bennett-Smith Chair of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Richmond

"We are all children of mothers, and in this heartfelt and moving book, we get to feel and witness the poignancy of this relationship. Minelle Mahtani bridges the gap between thinking and feeling as she delves into the trials of cultural misrecognition, displacement and love in this testimony to her mother, the nature of storytelling and the gift of remembrance. A deeply felt and beautiful book." —Mary Zournazi, award-winning filmmaker of Dogs of Democracy and My Rembetika Blues, and Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia

"Minelle Mahtani's memoir is a remarkable story of family, friendship, heartbreak and love. From her earliest memories to the most recent, Mahtani recounts key personal moments in her life as the mixed race child born to Iranian and Indian parents, a girl growing up in suburban Canada wanting to be just like her white friends yet keenly aware that she and they looked different, an accomplished academic and a journalist learning the rules of the game while trying to change and then break them. These stories, from Mahtani's early memories to the present, recount her experiences of heartache and heartbreak, love and friendship, professional accomplishments and failures, a desire to be as far from her parents as possible, and then a desperate attempt to hold on to them in their final days. Mahtani's story is beautifully crafted, almost lyrical, and feels at once intimate and familiar. Though these stories are uniquely hers, they manage to feel very much like our own, as only a gifted writer can accomplish." —Joshua Greenberg, Professor, School of Journalism & Communication, Carleton University

"For those of us who wonder as we wander, who read the tea leaves as we go, Minelle Mahtani's luminous memoir resonates deeply. Intimate, lyric and loving, May It Have a Happy Ending ushers us into a mirror room where we recognize ourselves in every fractured panel. Each page invites reflection, each reflection embraces you. One of the best books I've read in a long while, I dog-eared many chapters." —Emily Andrew, Senior Editor at McGill-Queen's University Press

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