September 6, 2023
This novel begins in Sri Lanka, with a young woman about to meet a man through a matchmaking service. Her family have initiated the search, and so a potential husband and his mother and father are coming to the house to meet them.
We experience the visit as Zia does, with trepidation and intrigue. It’s an insight for Western readers into a whole new way of finding a partner for life, that affords the couple only snatched conversation in a kitchen before the decision is made (which is completely up to the man).
And yet, a connection does form. Zia feels excited about the marriage to come.
‘Untethered’ shows us how this arrangement can work, and how being so closely bound to the context of the two families supports the new couple to begin a new life together.
It also shows how harsh it can be to separate from that deep, safe, warm fabric of the wider family when they decide to emigrate to Australia. Zia’s experience gave me new appreciation for the ways of other cultures, even with the constraints and the familial tensions that came with it.
Zia’s life twists and turns in unexpected ways as she navigates life in a new culture. Their life in Canberra shows us all the things that can lead to thriving or losing heart. That includes second guessing whether it was the right thing to do or not, to depart from everything and everyone you have known, and the place and the status you may have had in your former country which no longer applies.
Who are you then? That is what Zia and Rashid discover in Untethered, and there is such a strong sense throughout this novel that the author knows of what she writes.