"Elizabeth Flock takes us on an intimate cruise on the shifting sea of the heart, in the best book set in Bombay that I've read in years. Flock's total access to her characters, and her highly sympathetic and nonjudgmental gaze, prove that love and literature know no borders. Easily the most intimate account of India that I've read, and of value to anybody that believes in love and marriage."—Suketu Mehta
Elizabeth Flock appears in conversation with Suketu Mehta to discuss her new book, The Heart is a Shifting Sea. In twenty-first-century India, tradition is colliding with Western culture, a clash that touches the lives of everyday Indians from the wealthiest to the poorest. While ethnicity, class, and religion are influencing the nation’s development, so too are pop culture and technology—an uneasy fusion whose impact is most evident in the institution of marriage.
The Heart Is a Shifting Sea introduces three couples whose relationships illuminate these sweeping cultural shifts in dramatic ways: Veer and Maya, a forward-thinking professional couple whose union is tested by Maya’s desire for independence; Shahzad and Sabeena, whose desperation for a child becomes entwined with the changing face of Islam; and Ashok and Parvati, whose arranged marriage, made possible by an online matchmaker, blossoms into true love. Though these three middle-class couples are at different stages in their lives and come from diverse religious backgrounds, their stories build on one another to present a layered, nuanced, and fascinating mosaic of the universal challenges, possibilities, and promise of matrimony in its present state.
Elizabeth Flock is a reporter for PBS NewsHour. She began her career at Forbes India magazine, where she spent two years as a features reporter in Mumbai, and has worked for U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post. She has also written for major outlets, including the New York Times, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Hindustan Times, and The Hindu. She lives in Washington, DC.
Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found,’ which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. He is currently working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he was awarded a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship. He has also written original screenplays for films, including New York, I Love You, and a novella What is Remembered. Mehta was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.