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Nectar in a Sieve

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,565 Ratings  ·  675 Reviews
Named Notable Book of 1955 by the American Library Association, this is the very moving story of a peasant woman in a primitive village in India whose whole life was a gallant and persistent battle to care for those she loved.
Paperback, 186 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Signet Classics (first published 1954)
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Laughter Kamala Markandaya didn't really write a chickflick. Nectar in a Sieve is rather a critique of colonialism and its structures and effect on the…moreKamala Markandaya didn't really write a chickflick. Nectar in a Sieve is rather a critique of colonialism and its structures and effect on the millions of India who had their lives drastically altered. It also examines relationships between women in a patriarchal society. It is a fantastic read but should not be taken as a chickflick. Thank you(less)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Oh, man, talk about grimsville!! I think I'll just run along now and lay my head on that old railroad track!

These characters are just born to suffer and endure and work their tails off and all for what? Nothing, because they get screwed every time they start to get some hope back. Screwed either by Mother Nature or by their fellow human beings. Imagine seeing your child die from starvation and feeling relieved because you won't have to watch him suffer anymore!

Grimmest of all is that there are
At its heart, Nectar in a Sieve is a story about suffering and our response to it. The protagonist is an aging Indian woman looking back over her long life and reflecting on her fate as well as her choices. Much that happened to her, she had no say in. She was a child bride of an arranged marriage. In some respects, Providence was kind to her; in many others cruel.

But it would spoil the book to tell Rukmani’s tale before you read it. You need to experience it through her own sparse prose narrati
John Wiswell
Sep 19, 2007 John Wiswell rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anti-colonial/capital readers
A tale of utter hopelessness in the face of colonial or capital evil. The only inspiration one could draw from this is to hate to hate economic development, hate outsiders, or become determined to not be like these people, who can't or won't do anything to prevent ruin. Unfortunately in this desperation there is also little sense of love or bonding, such that the reader can only understand that it is terrible for people to be torn apart or turned against each other, rather than feel it as they r ...more
Dec 10, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and touching, Nectar in a Sieve follows a young Rukmani who is married to Nathan, a tenant farmer, when she is only twelve. The marriage, of course, is arranged. The story focuses on the growth of her family and the struggles a tenant farmer and his family must face in a developing India.

I had one minor issue with this book...that is that there wasn't more.

The story should be depressing because the family has to scrape by to survive. And I mean really scrape by...with very little extr
Mar 27, 2016 Marquette rated it really liked it
This book was basically the diary of the main character, Rukmani. From the get go the emotions were raw and real. This is a very realistic story that follows the life of Rukmani and her struggles throughout it. Anyone who likes autobiographies would enjoy reading this book.
Nov 20, 2010 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Justin Nichols. He likes the language.
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A Don
Mar 24, 2008 A Don rated it did not like it
I just finished reading the novel, Nectar in a Sieve written by Kamala Markandaya. The author, born in the highest caste in India but lived mainly in England, writes about the tale of a family's struggles with poverty and globalization. Being Markandaya's first published novel, Nectar in a Sieve is a worldwide best-seller and has been translated into seventy languages. Markandaya takes us to rural India set in mid-1900's, with the reflection of main character, Rukumani, taking the reader fr ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Brooke rated it liked it
Nectar in a Sieve, written by Kamala Markandaya, is a wonderful novel that lets the reader peek inside the heart of Indian culture. Markandaya, the author of A Handful of Rice and
Some Inner Fury, is actually named Kamala Purnaiya Taylor; she was raised in Mysore, India but she later moved to Britain after India declared its independence. Nectar in a Sieve follows the life of an average lower-class Indian, looking at the effects of globalization and the conflict between traditional and rural Ind
Mar 14, 2008 Sonali added it
Recommends it for: Teens
Recommended to Sonali by: World Lit Reading Requirement
Shelves: world-lit
Death, theft, prostitution and tenant farming. How could these elements be woven into a tale that inspires, evokes sadness, and creates pathos? Only one tale, spun so well, could this be made possible; that book is Nectar in a Sieve. Kamala Markandaya, authoress extraordinaire, can create emotions no one knew they could feel for written text and hardback cover. Markandaya lived no hard life herself, so the way she weaves a tale with such authority, such knowledge, and such passion about a family ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Priscilla Herrington
May 12, 2015 Priscilla Herrington rated it really liked it
Kamala Markandaya wrote Nectar in a Sieve in 1954; the Signet Classic edition was printed in 2002 with a forward by Indira Ganesan. Ganesan considers the book "a seminal work in Anglo-Indian fiction."

Rukmani is Markandaya's narrator and heroine. Although neither beautiful nor wealthy, Rukmani is married to a man whose love for her remains constant. This is a true blessing, as Rukmani and her husband, Nathan, suffer poor harvests and other misfortunes, eventually losing everything. Even their bea
Nov 16, 2014 Vatsala rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.

Some books are going stay forever with us. This is one of such books. The story of Rukmani and Nathan. A tale of endurance and poverty. Apart from Rukmani and Nathan - well formed characters like Ira and Kenny are so realistic that in the end one will start missing reading about them and how they fared. I especially missed reading more about Kenny and Selvam and their hospital.

In my view this book should be recommended to be studied as part of syllabus for schools in India, to make ch
Preeti Gupta
Aug 30, 2012 Preeti Gupta rated it it was amazing
The best book I have ever read, hands down, and I have read many 1000s of books. I have no connection to this author whatsoever, I just happened to love her writing. I also read Handful of Rice, which was also very good, but this one was the best!
Job Marc
This is the third Indian-set novel I've read, the first two being Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Of these three novels, I have observed the same general setting: a poverty-stricken life struggling and thriving with hope for a better one. This particular novel has urged me to travel to India, among the many places I want to travel. To discover the place and its different nooks bad or good, to mingle with its people and their culture - the constant fo ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Cathleen rated it liked it
A study in endurance and poverty. Anyone looking to abolish social programs aimed at alleviating and mitigating issues raised by poverty should have to read this book, or perhaps McCourt's Angela's Ashes, first. For families surviving through the barest minimum, demise is only one misfortune away. It's a somewhat dated view of one woman's life at the mercy of the natural world and others and how she perseveres in spite of all the troubles that find her. It's easy to see how her life could have b ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Sam rated it did not like it
I really disliked this book.
Anushree Thareja
Nov 26, 2014 Anushree Thareja rated it really liked it
'To those who live by the land there must always come times of hardship, of fear, and of hunger, even as there are years of plenty..... We live by our labours from one harvest to the next, there is no certain telling whether we shall be able to feed ourselves and our children, and if bad times are prolonged we know we must see the weak surrender their lives, and this fact, too is within our experience. In our lives there is no margin for misfortune.'

Nectar in a Sieve portrays a poignant picture
Laura Palmer
Apr 28, 2013 Laura Palmer rated it it was amazing
Nectar In a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

Kamala Markandaya really brings to life the struggles of life in a small village in India. Published in 1954, Nectar In a Sieve really elaborates on the daily life of an Indian woman.

In Nectar In a Sieve, the main character, Rukmani marries a tenant farmer, Nathan. The book follows their life together as a married couple. Rukmani and Nathan soon start a family and as the family grows, there are many challenges the family must overcome; poverty, drought, and
Jan Priddy
Aug 23, 2012 Jan Priddy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in poverty, hope, India
NECTAR IN A SIEVE by Kamala Markandaya (1954) is a classic story of life in India in the last century. I think I must have been 13 or 14 when I first checked out this book from my school library. This most recent reading is only my second, but I was astounded at how much I recall from that long-ago reading and at how much I still love this novel. Some books can truly be said to change a life, and this is one of the ones to change mine. Markandaya opened my eyes to a life completely foreign and s ...more
Ian C
Mar 23, 2008 Ian C rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished-reading
I recently concluded my reading of Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve. Markandaya has written many books such as Two Virgins, Shalimar, and The Nowhere Man. Nectar in a Sieve tells the tale of a woman who is married to an Indian man at a very young age, and of their life together as she matures.
One thing I found very intriguing about Nectar in a Sieve was the insight into Indian culture. It was thrown in almost casually, as if common. In fact, that is what made it stand out to me. It was as
Jan 09, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it

Set in rural India at the dawning of a new age, Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve tells the story of one woman's quest for happiness and peace amidst heartache and hardship. Despite attempts to ignore comparisons, one is indelibly reminded of Pearl S. Buck's classic The Good Earth. The heroine, Rukmani, is a sort of female Wang Lung, who narrates the rise and fall of her family as India grows and changes around them.

The story begins with Rukmani remembering her
Edaj Augusto
Jul 20, 2014 Edaj Augusto rated it it was amazing
Kamala Markandaya painted me a portrait of how Indian women lived in the midst of early arranged marriages, in a changing capitalist India, the poverty that afflicted the land, the illiteracy, the religious superstition and other issues that continue to ring true today in modern India. The heroine's plight isn't her story alone, but the story of the Indian masses. Rukmani was the face of every Indian woman to me. Her strength, her response to each trial and suffering in spite of her limited know ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
The language and prose in this book was lyrical and the story was concise with strong themes. Both are strong reasons to recommend it. But then there is this other reason that is hard to put to words. It was intensely sad, but not depressing. For some reason I did feel hope at the end, even though it is hard for me to understand why. The only reason I can figure is the main character. She is one that pushes through and figures out how to hold onto herself amidst the terrible cruelty of life. She ...more
Jan 12, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
I found this to be beautifully written, with characters that were believable and admirable. I always appreciate the opportunity to see life from the honest viewpoint of another culture. This book was a firm reminder of how impossibly difficult life is for so many people.
Jan 26, 2010 Sapphire rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sapphire by: Mrs.Schoener S
This was such a beautiful story which, with its cruel words of love and happiness, sadness and hardships, pulled me in and possessed me to sit and read such a wonderfully beautiful yet tragic tale. Told from the words of a woman, written by another, this story made me smile when the characters laughed and played, exuberant and unyielding, or literally brought tears to my eyes when they grieved for their losses. In this story love is given to all in one way or another and it really makes you thin ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Gregg rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
A tale of an Indian woman's struggles to survive in colonial India. She's married off, struggles to bear children, watches her family rise and fall (mostly fall) yet ultimately holds on to her spirit, even in the face of utter loss. A blurb like this makes it sound like some cheeseball Lifetime movie, but it's anything but. The diction is matter-of-fact; the symbols are about as subtle as a cockroach on a white living room rug. But the tone and philosophy of the book, Eastern as it is, is what d ...more
Apr 02, 2008 Lauren rated it it was ok
This book tells the story (the melodramatic story) of a peasant, tenant farming family in rural India at the turn of the century. Rukmani, the main character, is a youngest daughter married off to a man she has never met. The marriage turns out to be a good one and the couple have many children. The family experiences unspeakable tragedy as a late monsoon and one son's involvement in labor organizing catapults them even deeper into poverty. It catalogues the absolute vulnerability of the poor in ...more
Maysa Fadel
Jul 30, 2015 Maysa Fadel rated it really liked it
So much suffering inside the covers of this book !!

It strikes me that this story could be happening right now somewhere!
No human should do through all that !
No human should die of hunger while somewhere others are feasting way beyond their needs !

It really makes you appreciate what you have , and truly see the value of the major things you always took for granted, like the food in you fridge or the roof above your head.

Poverty, Starvation , hardships, death and grieve yet love and hope still
Jul 13, 2015 Lara rated it really liked it
Hard to put down, beautifully told. It is a sad story about the harsh realities of a woman's arranged marriage and her life,
Aug 16, 2015 Kendra rated it liked it
I had to read this book for school and it was ok/good. There were a lot of ups and downs in it.
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Pseudonym used by Kamala Purnaiya Taylor, an Indian novelist and journalist. A native of Mysore, India, Markandaya was a graduate of Madras University, and afterwards published several short stories in Indian newspapers. After India declared its independence, Markandaya moved to Britain, though she still labeled herself an Indian expatriate long afterwards.

Known for writing about culture clash bet
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“For where shall a man turn who has no money? Where can he go? Wide, wide world, but as narrow as the coins in your hand. Like a tethered goat, so far and no farther. Only money can make the rope stretch, only money.” 10 likes
“To those who live by the land there must always come times of hardship, of fear and of hunger, even as there are years of plenty. This is one of the truths of our existence as those who live by the land know: that sometimes we eat and sometimes we starve. We live by our labours fromone harvest to the next, there is no certain telling whether we shall be able to feed ourselves and our children, and if bad times are prolonged we know we must see the weak surrender their lives and this fact, too, is within our experience. In our lives there is no margin for misfortune.” 9 likes
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