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Overall Daal Rice by Sangeeta Dixit is a refreshing cultural piece. In this novella, the reader follows the 11-year-old narrator through the days leading up to Diwali (a Hindi holiday celebrating prosperity). Vinnie brings the reader through the most notable components of his family: from the complexity of the name-giving process, to the multifaceted importance of meals and eating in the Indian/American culture.
From start to finish, Dixit maintains the theme of food throughout the piece. Food is presented as the focal point of the family. Vinnie’s mother is heavily characterized by her incessant focus on feeding her children. Vinnie describes her as a looming figure following her children with a large serving spoon. Similarly, the father tasks himself with feeding his children healthy snacks after school. Despite the typical family strife, the family comes together for the holiday meal, and it is this “Daal Rice Talk . . . that gets the whole family to agree on SOMETHING!”
Daal Rice presents a deliberate story-line. Dixit presents the themes of names and food early in the piece, and the importance of these themes is preserved throughout the story. That said, I struggled with the narrative style. The story comes across much like the ramblings of a young child when he/she is eager to tell a story before his/her audience loses interest. I initially excused this long-winded stylistic choice because the narrator is a child, but I quickly felt overwhelmed by this narrative approach.
Had Dixit broken up her exposition with glimpses of her authorial voice, I would have given this piece 5 out of 5 stars. Despite feeling inundated with exposition, once I submitted myself to the story, Dixit brought me for a fun and enlightening ride which earned Daal Rice a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.