An English scholar, his Indian bride, their triplets, and a randy ex-cabbie grandfather look for a sense of home and family in a sunny Northern California suburb.In 1974, the young and callow Englishman George Armitage goes to Madras in the hopes of returning with at least the beginning of his Ph.D. dissertation. Instead, he comes home with a bride named Viji, an Indian woman he barely knows. This seemingly unlikely pair eventually wind up in Sacramento, where they buy a ranch house and give birth to triplets. In this new American world of shag carpets and pudding pops, Viji seeks consolation in her prayer room, which she visits frequently to gossip, sass, and seek advice from the framed portraits of her dead relatives. It is here where Viji feels most herself, where she immerses herself in the comforts of home, and where these deceased family members "felt as real to her as she'd been to them." The relative calm of Viji's California existence is interrupted when George's father shows up on their doorstep, unexpected and unannounced. Granddad Stan encourages the triplets to pee in the rosebushes, beds the neighbor's maid, and takes every opportunity to flummox Viji in every way he can. So when Viji's sister sends an out-of-the-blue invitation to visit India, she prepares for her first trip home in nearly eleven years, not knowing for sure if she'll ever return to the States. A hilarious and heartfelt debut, The Prayer Room re-examines the meaning of family-the people who live down the hall, the people who exist only in our memories, and the people who roll their eyes at you from within their picture frames.About the author:Shanthi Sekaran splits her time between Berkeley, California and Nottingham, England, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She's a graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where she studied with Alice McDermott and Stephen Dixon and was awarded the prestigious Elliot Coleman Fellowship for Fiction. She's been published in the anthology Best New American Voices 2004.