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3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  1,889 ratings  ·  143 reviews
When Jasmine is suddenly widowed at seventeen, she seems fated to a life of quiet isolation in the small Indian village where she was born. But the force of Jasmine's desires propels her explosively into a larger, more dangerous, and ultimately more life-giving world. In just a few years, Jasmine becomes Jane Ripplemeyer, happily pregnant by a middle-aged Iowa banker and t...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 5th 1999 by Grove Press (first published 1989)
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Andrew Kubasek
In the name of honesty, I read this book for a class taught by the author. It was a great class, and she used the novel as a great example of things like how a writer thinks, approaching symbolism, and the writing and publishing process generally.

Still, this book, although unique, failed to really strike a chord with me. I felt no sympathy or disgust for any of the characters, even though I got the sense that I was supposed to feel SOMETHING. What this book did do well was intrigue me enough to...more
I was recommended this book following a lecture series on US-Indian literature, and unfortunately, it does not live up to its hype. A young Indian widow's quest to fulfill her late husband's will by traveling to America and visiting the college he attended would make an interesting starting point for a story about a woman's search for her identity in a foreign country, but sadly, this endeavour soon falls flat due to one-dimensional protagonists and plot "twists" in the style of an improbable Bo...more
Aug 12, 2012 Emilie added it
I have no idea what to think about this book. Did I like it? Hm... Did I dislike it... Hm... I kinda nothing it.

While reading this I kept wondering wether it would get a spot in my bookshelf or go to a second hand. The latter won. Because of the ending. What the heck was up with the ending? It destroyed the whole story that COULD have been something. Thanks to the ending I know for sure it was nothing.

Identity crisis and culture shock is a serious matter that affects a lot of people. Doesnt me...more
The Book Maven
What will you give to be an American? What will you give to experience the American dream, to grasp all the prosperity and security and happiness that so many Americans seem to have?

For Jyoti, a seventeen-year-old widow who lost her husband to the violence that plagues India, there's not a lot she won't do. Illegally immigrate? Sure, why not? Commit murder? Steal another woman's husband, and then leave him? There you go. As Jyoti gradually acclimates to the society and values of America, she lea...more
I much enjoyed this engrossing tale, especially the voice of the heroine/narrator as she struggles through adversity and begins to discover her own power to make a better life for herself. Pages and paragraphs alternate between several settings: India, where Jasmine’s beloved husband is murdered by religious zealots; Florida, where she makes illegal entry to the United States and survives a dire assault by her human trafficker; New York, where she works as an au pair; and rural Iowa, where she b...more
I first read this in graduate school with a professor who assigned the book and then once we finished reading it proceeded to totally deconstruct it. A post-colonial Indian himself, he took umbrage with the backward depiction of rural life in India. I was very impressionable and spent the next ten years thinking Mukherjee was a hack writer with simple minded constructions.

On a second read at a more mature age, I see now that there is much to like in this novel; the fragmented and nonlinear const...more
I like this book for its writing. The language is beautiful, and full of sarcastic poetry. When I read it first I gave it three stars. But then after studying the book today, I am compelled to increase it to a four star rating.

This book makes one question many things. Including if this is about Jyoti's journey from entrapment to liberation linear, or has it been in a circle, aided by men, never truly independent.
This book annoyed me. The protagonist annoyed me, intensely.
There was a LOT of jumping between timeframes, in a very inconsistent manner, and though there are plenty of other books which vacillates between different timezones, the story flows smoothly with them. In this case though, I was like, ok, we're in India. No, NYC. No, scrap that, we're in Iowa- or wait, where are we again?
Plus the woman. I just found it slightly unrealistic, that a woman from a supremely rural Indian village was able to...more
Jamie Nelson
This book still fascinates me. It was integral to my undergrad senior thesis (over 10 years ago) - American Studies interdisciplinary look at immigration and the depiction of immigration and assimilation in fiction. I don't read it so much as a story, but how it turns immigration stereotypes upside down, and plays with names and geography for creating identity.
Jasmine is one of the few women who wanted to entirely escape the traditional woman's role in Hasnapur, India after having married a young man of modern sensibility. Having been widowed at only 17, she tries to realize the dreams she and her husband had for each other in America. Her dreams were not easily attained as any new immigrant knows...
an interesting look into the forming of an identity. The main lead is an Indian woman who migrate to the US for a purpose, and through many hardships, she did arrive in the US soil - though this was only the beginning of her real journey.

The way the main lead literally created another name to represent another identity for each place she had dwelled in felt very real to me.

The only complain I have about this book is the inherent cinderella complex that is still quite apparent here, were every ma...more
Andrew Reid
Aug 28, 2007 Andrew Reid rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ummm
I couldn't relate to the story, style of writing, or plot. It was a disjointed narrative of one woman's search for identity while she attempts to become an American, not Indian American. That would be fine with me if the plot was half ways interesting.
According to the back of this book, this is a story about "becoming an American". I think that it is more about adapting the different parts of yourself to your situation and working through all those parts to find the person you want to be.
A story of immigration and emancipation that is worthwhile in itself, but the narrative suffers because the writing is uneven. There are two schocking scenes that are riveting page turners. Otherwise you might find yourself skimming.
This is a novel that I had placed in my discard pile, but retrieved to re-read after a friend told me she had really liked it. Almost all the way through I was happy to be reading this book again & thinking that I would keep it after all. Acutely post-colonial (as we called such novels 15 years ago) in its point of view, it seems very up to date in its insider understanding of the often bizarrely complex interior and exterior lives of many immigrants, particularly illegal ones from poor coun...more
This novel was not what I expected. When I first picked it up I had thought it would be about a woman's life in India. And to an extent it was, however, it took a twist and brought the woman to America.

The main character is a woman named Jasmine. Throughout the story she goes by several other names including Jane, Jyoti, and Jase. Each name she has seems to bring its own life with it and she has several different periods of time in her life.

She starts out as a young girl in India where she marri...more
HAd it not been for the Stanford Book Salon, I probably would not have picked this book up to read, despite my interest in Indian culture. Until the reading list came out, it had flown completely under my reading radar. The group was asked to keep in mind the question, "To what extent is Jasmine, or anyone for that matter, in control of his/her destiny?" while reading the book. Having been involved in one too many destiny versus free will discussions in my lifetime, I conveniently let that slip...more
HenHud Library
At seventeen, Jasmine travels alone to America to escape the isolation imposed on widows in rural India. An act of violence shortly upon her arrival in the United States sets in motion the beginning of a major transformation as Jasmine struggles to survive, build a new life, find love and adapt to her new country.

As the story of Jasmine’s character and her transformation unfolded, I felt very conflicted. Her story touches upon both the great kindness and compassion of people reaching out to help...more
Nov 04, 2008 Annette rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who likes to read journey books
Recommended to Annette by: school
I thought that this book was okay. I think I did get something out of it. I did learn that life is not easy at all. In the book, Jasmine went through a lot of journeys. And throughout these journeys, there were a lot of obstacles.
It was a hard for life for Jasmine ever since her husband was killed in India. After his death, she illegally went to America and was raped. She later was saved by an American lady from Florida. There she helped her get to her destination which was Flushing, New York....more
Don J.
"Jasmine" is a powerful tale about an Indian woman widowed at seventeen, who sets off for America in search on a new life. Make no mistake about it, this is a fantastic heroes journey --few times have I ever rooted so hard for a protagonist and cheered as the heroine overcomes struggle after struggle. This is a tough book to review as I don't want to give anything away, but trust me on this: it is worth your time.

What I find so endearing about this book, and Jasmine herself is her never lie down...more
At age twenty-four, Jyoti is struggling to fit in and adjust to life in Baden, Iowa. Having suffered poverty, the death of her father and husband in India, plus rape and near starvation on the ship to America, adjusting to a new life and culture isn’t that easy.

Jasmine is about a young woman forced to keep reinventing herself to survive and adjust to changing circumstances. Even her name changes from Jyoti, to Jasmine, to Jane as she tries to figure out who she wants to become. When the book ope...more
Jasmine is another book I bought (and didn't use) for a college class. I carried it around with me for half a decade and decided, finally, as I was restocking my bookshelves after my latest move, that time had come to either read it or dump it. I'm glad I didn't decide to toss it into the wastebasket.

Book is about a small-town Punjabi woman named Jyoti, widowed before her eighteenth birthday, who is faced with a conundrum: Wives in her community do not survive their husbands. They die first, or...more
May 29, 2007 Bill rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Bharati Mukherjee's 1988 short story "Jasmine" is a gem. It tells the story of Indian woman from Trinidad who enters the U.S. illegally and ends up working in the household of a liberal academic family in Ann Arbor. Mukherjee employs a light touch in her portrayal of the differences between the savvy Jasmine and her well-intentioned but naive employers. The story steers clear of sentimentality while still making you acutely aware of the precariousness of an illegal immigrant's life and the yawni...more
Mr. Cole
I first read this in graduate school with a professor who assigned the book and then once we finished reading it proceeded to totally deconstruct it. A post-colonial Indian himself, he took umbrage with the backward depiction of rural life in India. I was very impressionable and spent the next ten years thinking Mukherjee was a hack writer with simple minded constructions.

On a second read at a more mature age, I see now that there is much to like in this novel; the fragmented and nonlinear const...more
Alright doggs I have been getting puzzled on Achewood all morning so this review will be written in the voice of Roast Beef Kazenakis


Jasmine is a book about a lady who is from Circumstances. She is afflicted by all manner of heavy events from when she is a little girl in hicksville India to when she is a grown lady in Iowa (seriously Iowa) but she pulls through with hell of resilience and determination. Sayin it like that you might think this was some Lifetime movie Oprah book nonsense but J...more
Lifetimes ago, under a banyan tree in the village of Hasnapur, an asrologer cupped his ears--his satellite dish to the stars--and foretold my widowhood and exile.

Jasmine is a captivating story of a young Indian woman's incarnations as she struggles with fate. Born Jyoti in India and renamed Jasmine by her husband Prakash, the protagonist finds herself reinvented constantly by tragedy until she settles in Iowa farmland and begins a relationship with a banker who christens her Jane. Her strength a...more
I expected to dislike this book. I expected to know it already. I could tell you way too much about the literary criticism written about Jasmine . Usually that makes a novel difficult for me to get through. I had to force myself to read Eat a Bowl of Tea . Yet this book was more complex and more interesting than I expected. Maybe it was the way the novel deal with farming, which apparently is the new theme of my life.

I suppose at its narrative heart the book is about Jasmine, who is in the Un...more
This was a fascinating story about illegal immigration to the U.S. and the atrocities associated with it. I was taken by the entire tale, the only draw back was the authors bouncing around on topics, at time it took time to reset to what was being referred to. Well worth the read- the difficult parts are dealt with in a sensitive manner that make it stomach-able.
Leslie Khouri
This novel is about the life of an Indian immigrant who moves to America after the tragic losses she experiences. Throughout the story the main character Jasmine, is given different names by each male figure she encounters in her life. Which to me was a representation of the different roles she personified with each male figure. To me this was a story about the struggle between the dual identity of a character that must choose between the traditional roles of Indian society verses the more moder...more
Franchesca Guerrero
This book was very different from anything I have read. I have never read books where the setting took place in India or the character was of Indian descent. A lot of the things she mentioned I did not know like the food and such things. Nevertheless, I really ended up enjoying this book because it was different. I thought the character was a little like me, she did not know where she belonged. I am a young woman and that can be a stage in life where you are not on solid ground. I found it a lit...more
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Bharati Mukherjee is an award-winning Indian born American writer. She is currently a professor in the department of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

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