• The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

  • A Novel
  • By: Mira Jacob
  • Narrated by: Mira Jacob
  • Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (376 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A winning, irreverent debut novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past - for listeners of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Mona Simpson, and Jhumpa Lahiri

Named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Bustle, and Emily Gould, The Millions  

With depth, heart, and agility, debut novelist Mira Jacob takes us on a deftly plotted journey that ranges from 1970s India to suburban 1980s New Mexico to Seattle during the dot.com boom. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is an epic, irreverent testimony to the bonds of love, the pull of hope, and the power of making peace with life's uncertainties. 

Celebrated brain surgeon Thomas Eapen has been sitting on his porch, talking to dead relatives. At least that is the story his wife, Kamala, prone to exaggeration, tells their daughter, Amina, a photographer living in Seattle. 

Reluctantly, Amina returns home and finds a situation that is far more complicated than her mother let on, with roots in a trip the family, including Amina's rebellious brother Akhil, took to India 20 years earlier. Confronted by Thomas' unwillingness to explain himself, strange looks from the hospital staff, and a series of puzzling items buried in her mother's garden, Amina soon realizes that the only way she can help her father is by coming to terms with her family's painful past. In doing so, she must reckon with the ghosts that haunt all of the Eapens.

Praise for The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

“With wit and a rich understanding of human foibles, Jacob unspools a story that will touch your heart.” (People)

“Optimistic, unpretentious and refreshingly witty.” (Associated Press)

“By turns hilarious and tender and always attuned to shifts of emotion... [Jacob’s] characters shimmer with life. ”(Entertainment Weekly)

“A rich, engrossing debut told with lightness and care.” (The Kansas City Star)

“[A] sprawling, poignant, often humorous novel... Told with humor and sympathy for its characters, the book serves as a bittersweet lesson in the binding power of family, even when we seek to break out from it.” (O: The Oprah Magazine)

“Moving forward and back in time, Jacob balances comedy and romance with indelible sorrow.... When her plot springs surprises, she lets them happen just as they do in life: blindsidingly right in the middle of things.” (The Boston Globe)

©2014 Mira Jacob (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Jacob’s novel is light and optimistic, unpretentious and refreshingly witty. Jacob has created characters with evident care and treats them with gentleness even as they fight viciously with each other. Her prose is sharp and true and deeply funny.... This is the literary fiction I will be recommending to everyone this summer, especially those who love multigenerational, multicultural family sagas.” (Associated Press)

“Always engrossing and often feels so true to life that it’s a surprise that it’s not.” (The Austin Chronicle)

“Mira Jacob has written an utterly dazzling, epic debut. The story of an Indian American family is at once completely relatable and totally fresh. A beautifully timed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is intricately woven and sparklingly played out, and it triumphs. I did not want this breathtaking book to end.” (Julie Klam, author of Friendkeeping)

What listeners say about The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The best book I have read in a long time

The story was amazing and I think I loved it more with the author reading. Her different voices for each character became easily recognizable. I am sad it is over.

9 people found this helpful

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One of the best books I have read in a long time

I read a review after reading this book that said that the author pulls the reader into every nuance of Amina's life. The depth of character in this book is alarming and wonderful.

8 people found this helpful

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Albuquerque

I had no idea this story was partially set in Albuquerque, NM when I purchased it. I enjoyed the authors descriptions of life here. The cultural challenges she describes are intriguing and thought provoking. Anyone who enjoys exploring family ties will like this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • k2
  • 03-10-15

Wasn't sure

I wasn't sure at first, but grew to love the characters.
The story gave me appreciation for different family dynamics.

6 people found this helpful

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Wonderful family saga and outstanding narration !!

If you could sum up The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing in three words, what would they be?

Moving, Funny, Interesting.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kamala.She is funny, loving and sounds so genuine.

Have you listened to any of Mira Jacob’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Unfortunately no. But I'll be on the look out for her next one for sure!

If you could take any character from The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Kamala, because her passion is cooking and so is mine. that would make for an interesting conversation.

7 people found this helpful

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Gateway listen!

Any additional comments?

This is the first time I've listened to a full-length fiction title. I listen to tons of podcasts, and I've listened to autobiographies and Freakonomics-style nonfiction, but never a novel. h/t to Laura Hogensen for the rec, and she was right - the author does an excellent job with the voices, and I found myself taking the long way home just so I could listen for a few extra blocks. If you've ever wondered if audiobooks are for you, this should be your gateway listen!

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A Good First Effort

I purchased this book because they compared the writer to Jhumpa Lahiri - my favorite writer. Besides the fact that they both explore the lives of Indians in America torn between two worlds, and the intricacies of a family - the similarities end there. Although Thomas' story was touching, I didn’t find myself thinking about it once I'd finished the book. And although Akhil's story seemingly came out of left field, I suspect many of us expected it. We can be amused by the "time travel" aspect as we get to hear the thoughts of the character's in their time and we know what eventually happens (garbage bags with handles, phones you can use in your car). But I often found myself wondering how old Amina was at times - like Im 30, and have had my share of "auntys" but none of them are going to twist my ear in reprimand...I'm 30 not 10!
This is book is long - very long and endlessly meandering, by the end of the book, you would have juggled as many as 7 storylines. Feels like the author couldn’t make up her mind as to which of her character's wants to cater to, so we got a little of everything. This is clear even with the title of the book. They may have compared Mira Jacob's familial exploration to that of Jhumpa Lahiri, but Lahiri's silences scream. Jacob is not quite there yet, but I think she's well on her way. She can tell a story, and that is what makes this book worth the listen.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Excellent author narrator !

I really enjoyed this author's narration of her book. It's a rarity for an author to excell as a narrator. She be each character a distinctive voice and nailed the accents - loved it ! I just wish the story had been more compelling. It was overly long, especially the last third which just seemed to drag, and then.....a non-ending. There was no payoff for the 15 hours of listening.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Written with heart;Narrated Brilliantly

What made the experience of listening to The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing the most enjoyable?

The author's narration was excellent. Loved her acting and accents

What about Mira Jacob’s performance did you like?

Her ability to act all of her characters.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Made me laugh in places cry in others.

Any additional comments?

The book's characters and their story portray the many shades of love.

5 people found this helpful

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  • JG
  • 07-08-16

The audio version really enhances the story

Where does The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I loved this book so much and the audio version really enhanced the story. Narrated by the author, the accents and inflections added so much to this sweet, touching story. It made my long commute short and I was so sad when it was over.

What other book might you compare The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing to and why?

The Namesake - because it provided a glimpse into the similarities and differences of daily life in Indian families

2 people found this helpful