Monday, September 03, 2007

One of the cousins visited recently and presented me with an entire leaning tower of books to add to my TBR pile. They are on semi-permanent loan (which is just as well as I am not entirely sure when I'll get around to reading them all!), and as he is moving house with a new job, I don't think he wants them back any time soon. His Sri Lankan heritage has influenced his reading tastes in just the same way as I lean towards the African, and it is a range of titles I wouldn't necessarily have picked up otherwise, so that's quite fun really:

ARRANGED MARRIAGE by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The possibility of change, of starting anew, in this stunningly beautiful and poignant collection of short stories, is at once terrifying and filled with promise. For those Indian-born women living new lives in America, independence is a mixed blessing. It means walking the tightrope between old treasured beliefs and surprising newfound desires, and understanding the emotions which that conflict brings. Together these stories create a tapestry of existence as colourful, as delicate and as enduring as the finest silk sari.
The film of her novel The Mistress of Spices, was not particularly well received if I recall...

Set around the time of Partition and written with absorbing intelligence and sympathy, Difficult Daughters is the story of a woman torn between family duty, the desire for education, and illicit love. Virmati, a young woman born in Amritsar into an austere and high-minded household, falls in love with a neighbour, the Professor—a man who is already married.
With a setting at the time of Partition, this seems highly topical. I might start with this one.

THE NAMESAKE by Jhumpa Lahiri
'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…'

For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that 'baby boy Ganguli' be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' – after his favourite writer.
I made the mistake of looking at print reviews when this was released. Results were mixed and I've been too terrified to read it ever since. I adored her Pullitzer Prize-winning INTERPRETER OF MALADIES and don't want to be disappointed - isn't that crazy?!

LADIES COUPE by Anita Nair
Meet Akhilandeshwari, Akhila for short: forty-five and single, an income tax clerk and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life—always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider. Until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari, gloriously alone for the first time in her life and determined to break free of all that her conservative Tamil brahmin life has bound her to.
Have you read any of these? And if so, where should I start?



Anonymous Ann said...

I don't think you will be disappointed by 'The Namesake'. Inevitably it is different from 'The Interpreter of Maladies' which I agree was miraculous, just because it is a different form, but I still loved it. However, you might want to read Gogol's short story 'The Overcoat' first.

3:43 pm  
Anonymous Miriana said...

You won't be disappointed by 'The Namesake' - Lahiri writes beautifully and the story is really engaging too, I couldn't put it down!

3:01 pm  
Blogger A. said...

I read the book "The Mistress of Spices" and loved it, but I haven't seen the film. Apart from that, I have "The Namesake" sitting waiting too, so if you are brave enough for it, I must too.

9:39 pm  
Anonymous David said...

My personal tactic when approaching books I know nothing is to hold the book by its spine, spine down. Then I shake the book steadily top to bottom while slowly letting it open.

This allows any part of the book that the previous owner has creased open to reveal itself - thus identifying the bits they read over and over.

From those bits you can draw a pretty accurate conclusion of what the book is about.

11:49 am  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, equiano!

Wow, that's a nice stack of books! I haven't read "Arranged Marriage" yet, but "Sister of the Heart" was not bad. I both saw and read "Mistress of Spices"...what a waste of time.

I haven't read "Difficult Daughters" but after reading a couple of good reviews I put it on my wishlist. I can't wait to see what you think of it.

I enjoyed reading "The Namesake" but I enjoyed the movie more.

Haven't read "Ladies Coupe", but a friend did and she liked it. I have Nair's latest book "Mistress" but readers are saying it is not as good as "Ladies Coupe", so I think you got the better one! :)

Enjoy your reads, Equiano!

9:48 pm  
Blogger Thinker of Arb said...

Quite sadly I've watched just the movie of a few of the books you mentioned. I didn't know that they were in fact books.

The Mistress of Spices was a waste of time. The story just didn't do it for me. The Namesake was brilliant. A lot of great performances from the actors. So I woul definately recommend giving it a look.

6:59 pm  

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