The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

A Novel

Book - 2014
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For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Mona Simpson, and Jhumpa Lahiri comes a winning, irreverent debut novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past.
With depth, heart, and agility, debut novelist Mira Jacob takes us on a deftly plotted journey that ranges from 1970s India to suburban 1980s New Mexico to Seattle during the boom. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is an epic, irreverent testimony to the bonds of love, the pull of hope, and the power of making peace with life's uncertainties.
Celebrated brain surgeon Thomas Eapen has been sitting on his porch, talking to dead relatives. At least that is the story his wife, Kamala, prone to exaggeration, tells their daughter, Amina, a photographer living in Seattle.
Reluctantly Amina returns home and finds a situation that is far more complicated than her mother let on, with roots in a trip the family, including Amina's rebellious brother Akhil, took to India twenty years earlier. Confronted by Thomas's unwillingness to explain himself, strange looks from the hospital staff, and a series of puzzling items buried in her mother's garden, Amina soon realizes that the only way she can help her father is by coming to terms with her family's painful past. In doing so, she must reckon with the ghosts that haunt all of the Eapens.
Praise for The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
"With wit and a rich understanding of human foibles, Jacob unspools a story that will touch your heart." --People
"Optimistic, unpretentious and refreshingly witty." --Associated Press
"By turns hilarious and tender and always attuned to shifts of emotion . . . [Jacob's] characters shimmer with life. "-- Entertainment Weekly
"A rich, engrossing debut told with lightness and care." -- The Kansas City Star
"[A] sprawling, poignant, often humorous novel . . . Told with humor and sympathy for its characters, the book serves as a bittersweet lesson in the binding power of family, even when we seek to break out from it." -- O: The Oprah Magazine
"Moving forward and back in time, Jacob balances comedy and romance with indelible sorrow. . . . When her plot springs surprises, she lets them happen just as they do in life: blindsidingly right in the middle of things." --The Boston Globe
"This is an effortlessly gorgeous and rich book. Its prose is lovely and precise, alternately luminous and direct; its observations of people and families and the physical world are poignant and a delight. The dialogue is sharp, funny, and true. This is a triumphant debut!" --Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir!
"Comparisons of Jacob to Jhumpa Lahiri are inevitab≤ . . . both write with naked honesty about the uneasy generational divide among Indians in America and about family in all its permutations." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, ©2014.
ISBN: 9780812994780
Branch Call Number: FICTION JAC
Characteristics: 502 pages ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Jun 19, 2020

Poorly written, juvenile tone, and far too long.

Jun 07, 2018


Jul 23, 2017

Very good book a lot because of cross cultural angles: children of an Indian family moved to New Mexico for work. Long (500 pages), amazing for a first novel. Ending was a bit loose. Good fun for those looking to engage with a long term family drama.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a delightfully-written story of career, family, and destiny. The prose is fantastic. The story remains interesting and poignant through all its 500 pages. It's wonderful, and it does so much. Mira Jacob goes back and forth between places and time, and she does so without a hiccup. There are so many subplots going on, yet they all fit together and are not only terrific in their own right, but relevant to the larger story. It flows so seamlessly that you have to applaud the author and her editors. The characters are detailed. The dialogue is witty. The story itself has moments of humor and heartbreak. I really enjoyed this book.

Mar 31, 2015

This story is rapidly shooting its way up my all-time favorites list. I'm about 1/2 way through & it's definitely in the top 5 and still climbing. I'm actually listening to it on audiobook CD - what a treat! The author reads her story and she reads it amazingly, entertainingly, touchingly, simply wonderfully. I intend to listen to it again right away in addition to borrowing a hard copy so I can record my favorite lines accurately. Read this book if you like to LOL & LOL & LOL, but do take care, you will likely she'd a tear or two as well. It is a beautifully balanced story. I love that at 42, I can still discover new favorite books & authors. And thanks to my favorite sister for throwing Sleepwalker's my way at the exact right moment :)

Feb 10, 2015

Very complicated depressing book about a dysfunctional family. I found it slow and cumbersome to read.

Aug 20, 2014

I thought the ending was rushed.


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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

Weddings are about fantasies—you understand? Your job is to photograph the fantasy, not the reality. Never the reality. If I ever see another picture like that, you’re fired.

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