Well-Behaved Indian Women

Saumya Dave

Berkley, 2020

Agent: Jessica Watterson

From a compelling new voice in women’s fiction comes a mother-daughter story about three generations of women who struggle to define themselves as they pursue their dreams.

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little “writing hobby.” But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran’s life, she begins to question not only her future as a psychologist, but her engagement to her high school sweetheart.

Nandini Mehta has strived to create an easy life for her children in America. From dealing with her husband’s demanding family to the casual racism of her patients, everything Nandini has endured has been for her children’s sake. It isn’t until an old colleague makes her a life-changing offer that Nandini realizes she’s spent so much time focusing on being the Perfect Indian Woman, she’s let herself slip away.

Mimi Kadakia failed her daughter, Nandini, in ways she’ll never be able to fix­—or forget. But with her granddaughter, she has the chance to be supportive and offer help when it’s needed. As life begins to pull Nandini and Simran apart, Mimi is determined to be the bridge that keeps them connected, even as she carries her own secret burden. 


A New York Post Required Reading Pick

A Bustle Best New Book Pick

A Summer Book Pick - The Today Show with Hoda and Jenna


“This is a tender tale that never shies away from the tension at its root.”ELLE

“Well-Behaved Indian Women is a sparkling debut about family, identity, and finding the courage to pursue your own dreams. Saumya Dave is a bright new voice in women’s fiction.”—Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lies That Bind

“Saumya Dave’s wonderful debut is about mothers, daughters, and the rewards of following your own path. Told with warmth, humor, and insight, Well-Behaved Indian Women is a joy from start to finish.”—Laura Dave, international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes 

Well-Behaved Indian Women is a lesson in dreaming passionately, loving deeply, and living authentically.  Dave reminds us that it’s never too late to resurrect an abandoned dream.  This stunning debut is a celebration of women— their loves and loyalties, dreams and disappointments, hopes and heartbreaks.”—Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author

“Saumya Dave’s debut explores the relationships between mothers and daughters and their constant dance between meeting expectations while trying to fulfill self-desires. Nandini and Simran are both conflicted in how to be true to themselves. This debut is a love letter to the complexities of families and personal ambitions.”—Roselle Lim, author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

“A compelling and complicated family story filled with secrets, assumptions, and growth through communication, Dave’s debut renders these women’s lives realistically, with stumbles and corrections as they go along. This is a good fit for readers who like layered stories of women’s lives, complex social structures, and families finding balance between tradition and progressiveness.” -Booklist, (starred review)

“Dave creates three distinct, nuanced voices in these three women, and through their complicated relationships, she explores the ways in which we balance ambition and desire against obligation and cultural expectations. It's a poignant, character-driven story of love and courage, and an enlightening examination of assimilation and its pitfalls” - Buzzfeed