ELIZABETH FLOCK discusses her nonfiction book THE HEART IS A SHIFTING SEA

The Heart Is a Shifting Sea (Harper)

We may view India as a country steeped in, and perhaps constrained by, tradition, yet in the twenty-first century the pervasive influence of Western culture touches the lives of all ethnicities, classes, and religions. In her enveloping work of narrative nonfiction, The Heart Is a Shifting Sea, journalist Elizabeth Flock, a reporter for PBS Newshour, offers a penetrating look into three contemporary Mumbai marriages that reveals the surprising diversity and complexity of marital life in the largest metropolis of that evolving nation.

Flock spent nearly a decade immersed in the lives of three middle-class couples at different stages in their relationships: 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 is entwined with the changing face of Islam; and Ashok and Parvati, whose arranged marriage, made possible by the modern twist of an online matchmaker, blossoms into true love. As intimate observer, Flock is privy to moments of joy, frustration, secrets, and truths, and her elegant, layered narrative is a triumph of reportage that opens an oft-shuttered window on the hazards,  possibilities and promise of love and marriage.

“I have been at work on this book since I moved to Mumbai in 2008, which is when I first met these couples,” Flock explains. “Like many in Mumbai, I found that they practiced a showy, imaginative kind of love, which I was immediately drawn to. But they were also dreamers and rule breakers, and seemed impatient with the old middle class morals. Where the established rules for love did not fit for their lives, they made up new ones. And so, informally, I began to ask them questions about their marriages. I had no defined goal, except my interest, at first….I interviewed each couple separately and together, formally and informally, over hundreds of hours. Even when not in India, we remained in constant touch.”

Praise for The Heart Is a Shifting Sea

“This remarkable debut is so deeply reported, elegantly written and profoundly transporting that it reads like a novel you can’t put down. It’s both a nuanced and intimate evocation of Indian culture, and a provocative and exciting meditation on marriage itself.”—KATIE ROIPHE, AUTHOR OF THE VIOLET HOUR

The Heart is a Shifting Sea is an intimate look at life in India, yet its intricately reported, novelistic portraits of marriage will resonate regardless of where you live. This book will keep you up reading deep into the night; it will make you ignore your loved ones, shirk your responsibilities. It is that good.”—PEGGY ORENSTEIN, AUTHOR OF GIRLS & SEX

“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, AUTHOR OF MAXIMUM CITY

“Elizabeth Flock has invented a new way of telling a love story. It’s part journalism, part true fable, and it takes you deep inside a country. Whatever it is, I couldn’t stop reading it.”—PAMELA DRUCKERMAN, AUTHOR OF BRINGING UP BÉBÉ

Elizabeth Flock began her career at Forbes India Magazine, where she spent two years as a features and investigative reporter in Mumbai. More recently she has worked at U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post, reporting on social issues. Her work has also been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Hindustan Times, and The Hindu, among others. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she works as a reporter for PBS Newshour.

Event date: 
Friday, March 2, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai Cover Image
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.
ISBN: 9780062456489
Published: Harper - February 6th, 2018