Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens

Shankari Chandran

A gorgeously layered reading group novel about the unexpected families we create around us


Pub Date

January 2022







Welcome to Cinnamon Gardens, a home for those who are lost and the stories they treasure.

Cinnamon Gardens Nursing Home is nestled in the quiet suburb of Westgrove, Sydney – populated with residents with colourful histories, each with their own secrets, triumphs and failings. This is their safe place, an oasis of familiar delights – a beautiful garden, a busy kitchen and a bountiful recreation schedule.

But this ordinary neighbourhood is not without its prejudices. The serenity of Cinnamon Gardens is threatened by malignant forces more interested in what makes this refuge different rather than embracing the calm companionship that makes this place home to so many. As those who challenge the residents’ existence make their stand against the nursing home with devastating consequences, our characters are forced to reckon with a country divided.

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens is about family and memory, community and race, but is ultimately a love letter to storytelling and how our stories shape who we are.












‘Wise and dignified.’

The Australian Women's Weekly

‘Chandran is an excellent storyteller.’

The Weekend Australian

‘this story burns with anger and sings with optimism, sprinkled through with moments of levity and humour.’

The Canberra Times

‘This is an engaging story that feels both urgent and necessary. It is also a terrific read.’

The Daily Telegraph

‘a powerful, compassionate novel about friendship, family, community-building, and the racism faced by members of diasporic communities in this country.’

The AU Review

‘Chandran’s novel has serious heft, spanning several timelines and tackling complex topics like race, trauma and the structural inequality engendered in so-called multicultural Australia.’

The Guardian

‘might at first appear to be a straightforward feel-good tale, but quickly reveals itself to be firmly grounded in the light and shade of real life.’

The West Australian

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens is a lyrical, stirring, accomplished exploration of the trauma we carry, the secrets we keep, the histories we harbour, and the family we find. Chandran's characters are so vividly drawn you can sense them sitting across the table long after you've closed the covers. Deftly traversing time, culture and continent to weave a tale of both home and unbelonging, this is truly a novel not to be missed.’

Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil and The Hate Race

‘An engrossing, urgent, warm, wise and utterly, utterly beautiful novel.’

Emily Maguire, author of An Isolated Incident and Love Objects

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens filled this reviewer’s heart with both hope and rage at witnessing history repeat itself, while somehow preserving optimism about how communities can be rebuilt.’

Books + Publishing

Shankari Chandran.jpg

About the author

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy, Benji.


She is the author of two previous novels, Song of the Sun God and The Barrier