The Mistress of Spices Paperback
Tilo, an immigrant from India, runs an Indian spice shop in Oakland, California.
While she dispenses the classic ingredients for curries and kormas, she also helps her customers to gain a more precious commodity: whatever they most desire.
For Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, a priestess of the secret, magical powers of spices.
Through those who visit and revisit her shop - Ahuja's wife, caught in an unhappy, abusive marriage; Jagjit, the victim of racist attacks at school; the noisy bougainvillaea girls, rejecting the strict upbringing of their tradition-bound Indian parents; Haroun who drives a taxi and dreams the American dream - we get a glimpse into the life of the local Indian expatriate community.
To each Tilo dispenses wisdom and the appropriate spice: coriander for sight; turmeric to erase wrinkles; cinnamon for finding friends; fenugreek to make a rejected wife desirable again; chillies for the cleansing of evil.
But when a lonely American comes into the store, a troubled Tilo cannot find the right spice, for he arouses in her a forbidden desire, and following her own desires will destroy her magical powers. Compelling and lyrical, full of heady scents and with more than a touch of humour, this novel explores the clash between East and West even as it unveils the universal mysteries of the human heart.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 05/02/1998
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780552996709
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by isabelx
Review by Evalangui
So... I was reading this perfectly awesome book with lots of meta commentary and then I got hit by a big dose of misogyny. Which was later proven to be untrue in the case of the heroine, although I’m not sure if the implication is that it’s untrue in other cases (that women will fake diseases/set fire to things to get attention). The narrator, who is a modern man, normally tells you what he means so I’m waiting for him to clarify. Ok, finished. Misogyny not too bad for a book published when this was, like, to normal levels? I was terribly bothered by it later on because the narrator is a Brian Kinney type of asshole, he insists on telling the truth about everything and everyone and that results in a lot of veiled insults that make you laugh coz they are pretty true. I do wish the heroine had been more of a person and less of a 'mystery' (as a teacher pointed out, the mystery of Sarah was that there was no mystery). Her actions remain unexplained even when she gives an explanation and if that flew with any men because they could not understand women in their lives, it certainly doesn't with me.