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Finalist, Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) 2021

Award-Winning Finalist, Women's Fiction, 2021 International Book Awards
Award-Winning Finalist, Multicultural Fiction, 2021 International Book Awards



She Writes Press | September 29, 2020

Tara moves to the American South three years after her arranged marriage to tech executive Sanjay. Ignored and lonely, Tara finds herself regressing back to childhood memories that have scarred her for life. When she was eight, her parents had left her behind with her aging grandparents and a schizophrenic uncle in Mangalore, while taking her baby brother with them to make a new life for the family in Dubai.

Tara’s memories of abandonment and isolation mirror her present life of loneliness and escalating abuse at the hands of her husband. She accepts the help of kind-hearted American strangers to fight Sanjay, only to be pressured by her patriarchal family to make peace with her circumstances. Then, in a moment of truth, she discovers the importance of self-worth―a revelation that gives her the courage to break free, gently rebuild her life, and even risk being shunned by her community when she marries her childhood love, Cyrus Saldanha.

Life with Cyrus is beautiful until old fears come knocking. Ultimately, Tara must face these fears to save her relationship with Cyrus―and to confront the victim-shaming society she was raised within.

Intimate and deeply moving, Purple Lotus is the story of one woman’s ascension from the dark depths of desolation toward the light of freedom.


"Rao’s resonant novel is an ode to the value of personal dignity and the importance of being true to oneself that carries on long after the final chapter." - Newsweek magazine


Travel + Leisure Magazine's 20 Most-anticipated Books for Fall

"Touching on themes of abandonment, victimization and tradition, this novel is one of beauty and intimacy." - Ms. Magazine


"A moving and polished novel that highlights Rao’s literary promise..." - Kirkus Reviews


"This thoughtful, moving novel will appeal to readers who enjoy stories that explore the inner lives of women who are pushing against societal expectations." - Library Journal

"This book was a beautiful read. Rao’s language is gorgeous. She writes clearly, but her writing reads like music."- Affinity Magazine


"Rao’s prowess as a writer dazzles across the pages." - Khabar Magazine


"Rao’s strength in writing is her ability to maintain the mellow milieu even as she powerfully propagates empowerment..." - India Currents


 “A polished narrative of survival and empowerment!” – Jaggery Lit.


"A vivid and resplendent novel for our time." - Author Elaine Neil Orr

Winner of the She Writes Press and SparkPress Toward Equality in Publishing contest!!

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