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Gifted: A Novel Audiobook, by Nikita Lalwani Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Nikita Lalwani Narrator: Sneha Mathan Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9781481584746
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (553 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Rumi Vasi, the daughter of two Indian émigrés, has a gift for numbers. Her father, a self-made mathematics professor, believes that strict discipline is the key to nurturing her genius if the family has any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country. Between her father’s ever more regimented study schedules and her mother’s conservative beliefs about mingling with the opposite sex, Rumi has never had a chance to adapt socially.

As her parents launch an increasingly intense campaign to make Rumi the youngest student ever to attend Oxford University, Rumi’s mind drifts to other potent distractions, from music to love. Her family’s fierce expectations of her will prove a combustible formula as Rumi is thrust into the adult world before she has had time to grow up.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Arresting…a coming of age story full of the mingled love and anger that animate families of every culture.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “[Lalwani] conveys the confusions of Rumi’s developing body and mind with charm and warmth…and pinpoints with genuine insight the bewilderment and anguish of a young woman marked out from her peers.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Not the least of Nikita Lalwani’s achievements in this superb debut novel lies in her ability to present the tragedy of a gifted second-generation immigrant girl within the framework of larger throes: the conflict and isolation of strangers in a strange land, carrying the wounds of Partition…The novel is especially memorable for its sensuous power. Lalwani not only knows her characters’ minds: she is able to record, in wincing detail, events within their very mouths.” 

    Independent (London)

  • “A charming rite-of-passage novel…Lalwani’s evocation of teenage dislocation is pitch-perfect and she inhabits her heroine’s interior world with tender authority.”

    Guardian (London)

  •  “Nikita Lalwani’s poignant, vivid debut beautifully describes the dramas of growing up. Her keen-eyed observations highlight what it means to be young, gifted and Asian and the way those three things can be a source of both pride and prejudice.”

    Marie Claire

  • “The novel’s triumph is in elucidating the hurt of both child and parents…Rules abound in the world of mathematics, but Lalwani compellingly depicts the pain and pleasure of breaking the rules.”

    New Statesman

  • “Observant, witty and stylistically original…The novel is a winner.”


  • “[A] penetrating coming-of-age debut…the pain and confusion [Lalwani] presents are deeply felt.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Compelling…Lalwani subverts the standard immigrant-identity clichés with surprises that bring everything tumbling down.”


  • “Lalwani’s impressive debut exhibits deep empathy for her characters’ cultural and emotional displacements.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “The crisp tones of this narration keep the pace moving forward…Narrator Sneha Mathan creates authentic-sounding accents that…provide a more authentic atmosphere.”


Listener Reviews

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  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Natalie | 2/3/2014

    " It was ok. Lots of potential in the topic, and some interesting details here and there, but ultimately disappointing in both the problem and its resolution. Not a memorable book or one I'd especially recommend, unless you're especially interested in novels of immigrant experience. The gifted child aspect (which was what drew me to the novel) was unconvincingly portrayed, and rather diminished by the novel's focus on overbearing parenting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 1/31/2014

    " I can see why this book was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2007 - its a well-known story of how Indian children are pushed by their parents into a pre-determined mould to excel at non-arts related subjects so that they can supposedly inherit the world when they come of age. The urge to rebel against this mould always simmers underneath, as we see in the mathematically gifted Rumi, daughter of Indian parents living in Cardiff in the 80s. Every Indian child will be able to relate to some if not all of the experiences Rumi undergoes - the book can be enjoyed for that reason if no other. Its well-written enough but I can't help feeling that the UK market still has lots of potential for similarly themed books from Indian writers, if not the Indian market itself. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lauren | 1/31/2014

    " Kind of a Hindu Bee Season with Indian immigrants in Wales and maths instead of spelling. It is one angry novel that just explodes at the end but the characterizations are too thin and transitions too rough to make this story truly affecting. Also, very poorly edited which is a pet peeve. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmen | 1/23/2014

    " Rumi is an Indian girl who grows up around strict parents in the UK. She is influenced by English ways and slowly becomes more and more disobedient and daring. I think that she is like this because if she grows up with the little freedom that she is allowed, it will turn her to be a rebellious child who is desperate for freedom. Overall, I think that this is a really good book that tells the story of how a girl is influenced to do what she does because of her parent's beliefs. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Preethi | 1/18/2014

    " Such a crappy book. I feel the author has directly lifted the Isabella Da Costa track from Eric Segal's Doctors and gave it a slight modification, added some romantic angle, and a weird climax. And lo, here is the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jana | 1/6/2014

    " I liked the girl but her parents drove me crazy. The culture clash for 1st generation is too much I think. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 12/24/2013

    " very different - different culture, etc. and a view into the life of a gifted child - trying to be normal. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 12/19/2013

    " I loved the first part of this book about an Indian family in England and a girl who is "gifted" in math. It rang so true--including their trips to India. I don't know how I would have ended the book which is to say I was surprised and a little put off. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sabrina | 12/16/2013

    " surprisingly fresh, a gifted teenage girl from india, torn between her family's expectations and her wish finding herself... liked it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rashad | 12/12/2013

    " its a crap book, written poorly, wit no relationship built between da writer and reader, total waste of time, i ave stopped readin after 50 pajes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susmita | 12/6/2013

    " Didn't like the end though, otherwise great "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 mellyana | 10/29/2013

    " Interesting topic and characters, but I am feeling lack of something. Anyway, I found this book is pleasant, but that's just about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/27/2013

    " The life of a gifted child is not easy. The confusion and sometimes not very practical thinking is normal. As bright as a child is, s/he is still a child who is struggling to make sense of their world that is rather confusing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anna | 1/18/2013

    " I didn't feel the characters were well developed. The voice the author gave Rumi during her encounter with an older college student didn't ring true. It was an adult voice. Not the voice of an inexperienced child. The book was interesting in some ways, but not enough for me to recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 priscilla | 11/8/2012

    " could have done without the epilogue, but otherwise i truly loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 7/19/2011

    " Culture clash in an Indian family when a father wants his 15-year-old daughter to enter Oxford. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wednesday | 7/4/2011

    " Sweet, disturbing. Lots of hopes, dreams, alienation. Post-colonial-y, but not bad. The main character is very interesting and I found myself pretty involved in her development. Language is also great (British, Indian). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 sisterimapoet | 6/17/2011

    " Striking writing, despite a tendency to over describe. Good individual storylines, but focusing on one might have been preferrable to juggling all of them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 6/8/2011

    " Surprise ending to me--this book explores the push and pull of a gifted math student and her parents who want her to succeed. Everybody got a little out of control! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adelemarie | 7/5/2010

    " A story about controlling parents and the damage that they do. "

About the Author

Nikita Lalwani was born in Rajasthan, India, and raised in Cardiff, Wales. She directed documentaries at the BBC for several years before receiving her MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University. Lalwani lives in London. Gifted is her first novel.

About the Narrator

Sneha Mathan spent a peripatetic childhood in India, punctuated by a short spell in the Seychelles. Now fixedly based in Seattle, she works as a voice actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook work has received four Earphones Awards, and she is a two-time finalist for the Audie Award.