A wonderful novel in two parts, moving from the heart of a close-knit Indian household, with its restrictions and prejudices, its noisy warmth and sensual appreciation of food, to the cool centre of an American family, with its freedom and strangely self-denying attitudes to eating.
In both it is ultimately the women who suffer, whether, paradoxically, from a surfeit of feasting and family life in India, or from self-denial and starvation in the US. Or both. Uma, the plain, older daughter still lives at home, frustrated in her attempts to escape and make a life for herself.
Her Indian family is difficult, demanding but mostly, good-hearted.
Despite her disappointments, Uma comes through as the survivor, avoiding an unfulfilling marriage, like her sister's, or a suicidal one, like that arranged for her pretty cousin. And in America, where young Arun goes as a student, men in the suburbs char hunks of bleeding meat while the women don't appear to cook or eat at all - seems bewildering and terrifying to the young Indian adolescent far from home...
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 01/06/2000
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099289630
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Review by iftyzaidi
The basic story follows a middle class family in India, and is in two parts. The first is from the perspective of the eldest daughter, who being neither very pretty nor very bright, is pulled out of school at a young age to help with the housework, and the second part from that of the youngest sibling, the son, the apple of his father's eye and bearer of the family's expectations, who is sent to America to study. Its well written but I think my initial reaction was skewed by the unresolved nature of both parts of the tale. Which perhaps is part of the point. While I was reading it I was quiet absorbed though, and portions of the story have really stayed with me.