A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Shalini Malhotra Character Analysis

A woman Eggers meets after setting up the Might magazine office in a “filthy corner of a shaky warehouse” where the rent is only $250 a month. Shalini also works in this warehouse, helping “with just Go!, a tiny ecotravel magazine.” She also produces her own publication, Hum, which is “dedicated to uniting and speaking for/to/from twentysomethings of the South Asian American persuasion.” Shalini becomes a close workplace friend to Eggers and Moodie, giving them “semi-erotic during-work backrubs,” though their relationship with her remains platonic. One night, Shalini is at a party on a deck that collapses. The accident kills a number of people, but she survives. Having landed on her head, she goes into a coma. Upon hearing the news, Eggers begins visiting Shalini quite often. Finally, after months, she wakes up and is able to resume her life, though her short-term memory remains impaired.

Shalini Malhotra Quotes in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius quotes below are all either spoken by Shalini Malhotra or refer to Shalini Malhotra. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius published in 2001.
Chapter 9 Quotes

While the ill are ill, if you can be there you should be there. I know these things. Bizarre, self-sacrificing gestures are important. On days that you cannot possibly come visit, you must visit. When you get home one night, and Toph says, “So, are you going to pretend to be a parent tonight, or what?”—which he means as a kind of joke, because you two have been eating fast food for weeks, and you’ve been napping on the couch every night after dinner—you should take a breath and know that this is okay, that this sort of thing, this struggle and sacrifice, is essential, that he does not understand but someday will.

Related Characters: Dave Eggers (speaker), Toph Eggers, Shalini Malhotra
Page Number: 330
Explanation and Analysis:
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Shalini Malhotra Character Timeline in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The timeline below shows where the character Shalini Malhotra appears in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...and has now moved two floors up. Also on Might’s floor is a woman named Shalini, who works for an “ecotravel magazine” while also producing her own publication, Hum, which is... (full context)
Chapter 7
Identity Theme Icon
One of the people who sees Eggers and Moodie on The Real World is Shalini, who loves MTV. They become good friends with her and help her design her magazine... (full context)
Chapter 8
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
...a possibility. Still, he’s convinced he’s dying. Finally, people notice him and crowd around, and Shalini helps him up and takes him to the hospital. On the way, he feels a... (full context)
Chapter 9
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Guilt and Poetic License Theme Icon
Around the same time that Eggers sees Toph’s school picture, Marny calls and tells him Shalini has been in an accident. “You know that deck that collapsed in Pacific Heights?” she... (full context)
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
While Shalini is still in her coma, Eggers decides to bring her a teddy bear that he... (full context)
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Around this time, Marny and Eggers visit Shalini in the hospital and find her sitting up with her eyes open. The doctors tell... (full context)
Chapter 11
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Guilt and Poetic License Theme Icon
...he’s just one of many people whose stories Eggers has appropriated. He points out that Shalini isn’t even one of Eggers’s closest friends. He then says that he feels sorry for... (full context)
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Eggers attends a party celebrating Shalini’s birthday and recovery. She has fully healed, except for the fact that her short-term memory... (full context)