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list price: $18.99
category: Fiction
published: Oct 2020
publisher: HarperCollins

The Shape of Family

A Novel

by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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family life, coming of age
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $18.99
category: Fiction
published: Oct 2020
publisher: HarperCollins


From the internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son comes a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family’s growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy

The Olanders embody a modern family in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat, and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet in a London pub in 1988 and make a life together in suburban California. Their strong marriage is built on shared beliefs and love for their two children: headstrong teenager Karina and young son Prem, the light of their home.

But love and prosperity cannot protect them from sudden, unspeakable tragedy, and the family’s foundation cracks as each member struggles to seek a way forward. Jaya finds solace in spirituality. Keith wagers on his high-powered career. Karina focuses relentlessly on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart.

When Karina heads off to college for a fresh start, her search for identity and belonging leads her down a dark path, forcing her and her family to reckon with the past, the secrets they’ve held and the weight of their choices.


The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of four individuals as they grapple with what it means to be a family, leaving a painful past and entering a hopeful future. It is a profoundly moving exploration of the ways we all seek belonging—in our families, in our communities and ultimately, within ourselves.

About the Author

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her previous novels, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son became international bestsellers, selling over one million copies worldwide. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.

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Editorial Reviews

“In prose of quiet beauty, Shilpi Gowda drills down into the American Dream and comes up with pure gold. You will cry, rage, worry, and come to love the members of the Olander family.” 

— Tatjana Soli, Bestselling author of <em>The Lotus-Eaters</em>

“This beautifully written, poignant novel explores how one loving family deals with an unspeakable tragedy. It's a novel about race and culture, parents and siblings, marriage and love, but most of all, it's about finding hope after darkness. Shilpi Somaya Gowda is a compassionate and wise storyteller who keeps us riveted from beginning to end.”

— Jean Kwok, NY Times Bestselling author of <em>Girl in Translation</em> 

“Rendered with compassion, this is a compelling testament to a family’s struggle to find solace.”

— <em>Booklist</em>

“Shilpi Somaya Gowda has painted an unforgettable portrait of a family’s loss, longing, and reconstruction. Haunting and beautiful, The Shape of Family takes hold of you from the first page and does not let go as it explores —in the distinct and rich voices of each family member — the forces that separate and the ties that unite a mother, father, daughter and son.” 

— Lawrence Hill, Bestselling author of <em>The Book of Negroes</em>

“Shilpi Somaya Gowda is as adept at crafting disparate, fully realized worlds…as she is at creating compelling characters.”

— Marisa de los Santos, author of <em>Love Walked In</em><em> and </em><em>Belong to Me</em><em> </em>

“Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s great achievement is this: she makes each locale she depicts fascinating and true and original; she makes each character she draws so heartbreakingly vibrant that even after we finish reading we can’t forget them.”

— Chitra Divakaruni, author of<em> Mistress of Spices </em><em>and</em><em> Oleander Girl</em><em> </em>

“Vivid, heart-warming, and absorbing.”

— Heidi Durrow, <em>New York Times</em> bestselling author of <em>The Girl Who Fell From the Sky</em><em> </em>

“Gowda can write up moments that break your heart.”

— The Globe and Mail

“A sensitive and intelligent work . . . [with a] finely drawn protagonist. . . . Demonstrates Gowda’s abilities as a sympathetic observer of heart and mind.”

— National Post

“At turns harrowing and uplifting. . . . Compulsively readable and inspiring.”

— Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of <em>The Painted Girls</em> and <em>The Day the Falls Stood Still</em><em> </em>

“A nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures.”

— <em>Washington Post</em>

“A moving exploration of how loss can change the contours of a life. Gowda deftly examines the forces that can make and remake a family in this engrossing page turner of a novel.” 

— Thrity Umrigar, Bestselling author of <em>The Secrets Between Us</em>

Praise for Secret Daughter

— No Source

“Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s flair for detail is evident. . . . The prose is so achingly touching, it draws the reader in with every description and emotion of the characters.”

— Associated Press

“Gowda traces the fallout lines with compassion and a keen eye for the lies we tell ourselves to avoid facing our own demons…. A deft, patient portrait of grief.” 

— <em>Kirkus Reviews</em>

"A deeply involving story of a family falling apart, THE SHAPE OF FAMILY rings so true."

— Emma Donoghue, Bestselling author of <em>ROOM</em>

“A beautifully composed compelling story of love, loss, discovery and the true meaning of family.”

— Anjali Banerjee, author of <em>Imaginary Men</em>

"A tense and moving story of tragedy, grief, and resilience, of a family confronting its darkest moments while searching for the light within. Gowda's vivid characters and glimmering prose make for an engrossing and unforgettable read." 

— Bruce Holsinger, Author of <em>The Gifted School</em>

Praise for The Golden Son

— No Source

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