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Heat and Dust

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,389 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
A profound and powerful novel, winner of the Booker Prize
Set in colonial India during the 1920s, Heat and Dust tells the story of Olivia, a beautiful woman suffocated by the propriety and social constraints of her position as the wife of an important English civil servant. Longing for passion and independence, Olivia is drawn into the spell of the Nawab, a minor Indian pri
Paperback, 190 pages
Published April 16th 1999 by Counterpoint (first published 1975)
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Life of Pi by Yann MartelThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroThe Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodMidnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Booker Prize Winners
39th out of 50 books — 1,561 voters
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
77th out of 646 books — 2,003 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 19, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-novels
3.5 stars
Winner of the Booker Prize in 1975; this is actually quite good. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is an interesting character; her parents fled the Nazis in the late 1930s and she lost many family members in the Holocaust. She lived initially in Britain and then married an Indian architect and moved to India in 1951. She remained there until the 1970s when she moved to the US where she continued her already creative relationship with the Merchant Ivory team and had a hand in a great many of their f
Sep 08, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: c20th, britain, booker
It took less than a day to read this - 180 pages long and easy to read - but it's a rich and fruitful book. It comprises two stories in parallel: the tale of Olivia who abandons her British husband when she goes to India; and of her un-named relative who goes to Satipur some fifty years later to solve the mystery of what became of Olivia. She ends up becoming 'seduced' by India too.

Olivia is naive but adventurous, and she doesn't like the other British wives and their disdain for Indian religion
চমৎকার ছিমছাম একটা উপনযাস। রুথ পরাওয়ার জাবভালা আজ আর বেঁচে নেই, তবে রেখে গেছেন বুকার পুরসকার বিজয়ী এই বইটি, আর মারচেনট-আইভরি টীমের সাথে বানানো আর দশকের বিখযাত কিছু চলচচিতর। আরো কিছু বইও লিখেছিলেন, কিনতু ঔপনযাসিক হিসেবে তার কুশলী হাতের পরধান টেসটিমনি হয়ে থাকবে এই "হীট এনড ডাসট"।

লেখিকার জীবনকাহিনী বিংশ শতকের কলাসিক গলপ। সালে হিটলারের তাড়া খেয়ে জারমানীর কোলোন শহর থেকে বিলেতে পালিয়ে এলো ছোট ইহুদি মেয়ে রুথ পরাওয়ার, সপরিবারে, একদম টায়ে টায়ে, দবিতীয় বিশবযুদধ শুরু হওয়ার মাতর কিছুদিন আগে। আর কয়েকদিন দ
Oct 07, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novel tells the story of two women, in two different era's. First there is the spoiled and unhappy Oliva, in 1923 colonial India, who outrages society by having an affair with the local Nawab. Olivia's husband Douglas divorces her and remarries. In the 1970's, his granddaughter arrives in India to revisit the places her family once lived and to try to discover the truth about the scandal that surrounded her grandfather's first wife.

There are a great deal of parallel events that occur
From BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama:
A beguiling story of two English women living in India more than fifty years apart. In 1923, Olivia is unhappily married to a civil servant. Her step-granddaughter travels to the subcontinent years later to investigate Olivia's life, which her family regarded as 'something dark and terrible'.

The story centres on the experiences of two very different women in pre- and post- Independence India. One is circumscribed by English mores and the formal social structure
Jun 23, 2008 Gina rated it really liked it
1975 Booker

An excellent, quick read that jumps back and forth in time between 1923 and 1970s India, concentrating on the lives of the wife of a British official in 1923 and her husband's granddaughter in the 1970s.
Erika S
Apr 09, 2009 Erika S rated it really liked it
A decent book. It actually brought me to tears in one particular instance:

"Maji sat down under a tree and took the old woman's head in her lap. She stroked it with her thick peasant hands and looked down into the dying face. Suddenly the old woman smiled, her toothless mouth opened with the same recognition as a baby's. Were her eyes not yet sightless--could she see Maji looking down at her? Or did she only feel her love and tenderness? Whatever it was, that smile seemed like a miracle to me" (1
Aug 23, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Книга, която не позволява да я оставиш до последната страница, да заспиш или да мислиш за друго. Кратка, красиво написана, проследяваща паралелно живота на две жени, които Индия белязва завинаги и ги превръща в авантюристки с трудно обяснимо понякога поведение.
"Индия винаги намира слабото ти място и цели в него."
Едната е отегчена, скучаеща съпруга на високопоставен английски служител, другата – негова внучка от втория му брак, търсеща истината за старателно премълчаваната и скандална за времето
Aban (Aby)
May 20, 2013 Aban (Aby) rated it liked it
In this short novel the reader follows the stories of two English women: the narrator whose name is never revealed and Olivia, her step-grandmother. Set in 1923 during Colonial times and fifty years later in Independent India, the novel follows the narrator's attempt to trace Olivia's life: her dissatisfaction with being an administrator's wife and her attraction to an Indian ruler who offered her an escape from it. Both women become pregnant and, although the choices they make are different, th ...more
Courtney H.
Mar 11, 2012 Courtney H. rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookers
This is definitely one of my least favorite Bookers. It was dull, it was pretentious, and the main character was, in the words of Rizzo, a total drag. Which might have been somewhat forgivable if it didn't have such a promising start. Because Jhabvala is clearly a good writer, and though the book is in journal form -- not usually my favorite -- it paces nicely and the writing has a nice kind of precision to it (though somewhat pretentious, as mentioned before). More importantly, she introduces a ...more
Oct 14, 2012 Tori rated it liked it
It was a cool look into what India was like post-British colonialism. You got to see parallels in today's, or 1970's at least, Indian society too, the book kind of shows that India has taken old British Imperialism from their past and taken it over for their own particular ways of living.
The author seems to think Indian culture will *always* change a person entering it, whether for the person's better or worse, and demonstrates this in the exact same story through a woman and her great-great aun
Apr 14, 2016 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, library, india, raj
Unnamed narrator, in the 1970s is searching for information about her grandfather's first wife, Olivia Rivers, in 1920s India. The book takes us back and forth from the 1970s through the narrator's diary entries back to the 1920s in Raj India and Olivia's story. The book contrasted Raj and the India of the present. The strongest element of the story was the evocation of India, especially through its descriptions of the climate--mostly "heat and dust." This also served as a metaphor for the heati ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Ev rated it it was ok
A story about the complicated facets of love and power, and how we often do not strive for what we most desire; it is always within our reach, if we are brave enough.

A brief, sardonic summary:

Olivia: It’s so hot here! There’s so much dust! My dear Douglas is right; English women weren’t meant for the heat. I’m bored and passive aggressive, and entirely unwilling to go out of my comfort zone to cultivate independent thought. To remain in disingenuous infatuation with the man I am married to, I wi
Mar 10, 2016 Catawsumb rated it really liked it
This short novel had been on my shelf for years. I probably originally bought it because of my great admiration for the scripts she wrote for Merchant-Ivory films. This is great too. Interwoven stories of Anglo-Indians in two time periods. Quite romantic and lovely writing.
Marco Tamborrino
Apr 22, 2015 Marco Tamborrino rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mi dispiace per gli alberi che sono stati usati per stampare questo scempio.
Kilian Metcalf
Mar 26, 2016 Kilian Metcalf rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2014 Jolie rated it it was ok
Made it halfway through when I concluded that this well written but very depressing story was not going to end well for anyone. Had I continued I would have been an angry, frustrated mess looking for my time back. I simply can’t stand it when character development weakens rather than grows as the story moves along. I don’t have the time to read about characters disintegrating into absurdity, no matter how prettily they are written or historical context taken into account.

For instance, in this c
Apr 24, 2013 Neetineeti rated it really liked it
It was very engaging to begin with. She set the scene beautifully and moved effortlessly between the story of the narrator and her step-grandmother. The description of a poor little town in colonial India and its evolution into a squalid modern day small town is also quite vivid, although a bit depressing. Some of the character descriptions are quite good, but some seem a bit stereotypical, like the British boy who has become a 'sadhu'. However, one has to be fair given that she is obviously wri ...more
Oct 28, 2014 Neha rated it really liked it
In your teens and 20s you are impatient to leave your roots and fly away to explore a whole new world, the charm of new, and in your 30s or 40s you think of going deeper and deeper to dig your roots, the hidden treasures, the legacy, the pas, the charm of old, even if it lies in Heat and Dust.

This is what this book stands for, when a young woman, goes back to India to explore her family's ties and the underlying gossips or truth for that matter. She is different and she chooses a different life

"Heat and Dust" and Gossip From The Forest by Thomas Keneally were the only two books shortlisted in 1975 and there was some debate about whether the latter was really a novel at all (as there was with Schindler's Ark).

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala had been living in India for about twenty years when she wrote this book and she captures its mesmerising effect on outsiders and its heat and dust very well. The author makes an attempt to show how attitudes have changed between the two time periods, in t
Christian Engler
Sep 21, 2013 Christian Engler rated it it was ok
After finishing Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's 1975 Booker-Prize winning novel set in India during the British Raj, I will admit, I was puzzled at the degree of kudos that this most mediocre novel received. To say that the book was lackluster in its conveyance of colonialism in India is barely hitting the mark in its accuracy. And to put it on the same shelf as A Passage to India is completely laughable, thus illustrating once again that overzealous literary critics are only too eager to press forth ont ...more
May 10, 2015 Alka rated it it was amazing
very well integrated narratives of 2 generations with synchronicity between two women of different generations. the pressures and demands of living in India upon a person of non Indian origin are very well captured without being overly critical.
Dec 11, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: india, classics, 1920s, 2014
I am torn about the book. I could not stop reading but as the book went on, I knew the choices being made by the characters were not good.
Oct 25, 2015 Margo rated it liked it
meeting in the Indian heat and dust
prince and 'princess' charged with lust
despite her marriage seeming good
she screws the nawab in the wood
they certainly go for boom or bust
Jun 08, 2015 Emmah rated it did not like it
The worst book ever published, a waste of a tree and a waste of time. If I could give this book minus 100 stars I would. The amount of times I could have gauged my eyes out reading it. The storyline is confusing, the juxtaposition of both characters both Olivia and the narrator both having the same fate was just boring and stupid. I don't even care this has spoilers in it, please everyone read this, save your money and precious time reading this junk. If I could round up every copy on earth and ...more
Ksenia (vaenn)
Чергова спроба позатикати дірки в освіті (вони цьогоріч у мене двох планів - вікторіанські та "середина 20 сторіччя" в такому широкому розумінні, що років десь так сорок) минула повчально.

"Heat and Dust" - безумовно корисне читання, але користь з нього радше теоретична, ніж така, що на практиці гарантує насолоду від читання. Конспективно стриманий роман (а за обсягом - скромна повість, от хіба що часові лінії дві) нашвидкуруч розгортає основний наратив уже-майже-пост-колоніального-писання-про-о
May 30, 2015 Aida rated it liked it
Heat and Dust is a beautifully written novel, with an unsatisfying ending. The book to me was far from romance but it was more a journey to India and I didn’t realised this until I finished the book.

The Novel is told from a voice of a woman who travels to India, goes back to heat and dust to to find out about her step grandmother Olivia and why no one is allowed to talk about her and her past in their family . Through the journey She falls in in love with an Indian man just like Olivia although
Adam Cherson
I rate this book a 3.46 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being best. One of the best western writers on India, this novel offers many unusual insights into the relationship between the British and India in the 1920s. As the author herself did in her own life, the protagonist winds up plighting her trough with an Indian man, much to the dismay of her British relatives. An amusing and pathetic parade of mendicants, servants, religious pilgrims, businessmen, civil servants, and doctors come and go. It is a ...more
Gavin Malavolta
Mar 06, 2016 Gavin Malavolta rated it really liked it
Shelves: booker-prize
I wonder sometimes when I read a novel if I'm missing something... this novel is a Booker prize winner, but it didn't really feel like it. But then again it won the prize in 1975 and perhaps what constitutes a winner has changed since then? Ok don't get me wrong, I did like the novel, in fact I enjoyed it. On the other hand as a lover of any literature that has anything to do with India, I found Jhabvala's picture of India somewhat overly-negative, and I found myself wondering why she seems to d ...more
An eloquent and beautifully poised novella comparing and contrasting the experiences of two English women in India. The unnamed narrator travels to India to investigate and tell the story of her father's first wife, a bored housewife who has an affair with a local prince. Their two stories are alternated and have many parallels, as well as contrasts between colonial and independent India. It is easy to see why this book won the Booker prize.
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Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, CBE is a Booker prize-winning novelist, short story writer, and two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter. She is perhaps best known for her long collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions, made up of director James Ivory and the late producer Ismail Merchant. Their films won six Academy Awards.

She fled Cologne with her family in 1939 and lived through the London Blitz.
More about Ruth Prawer Jhabvala...

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“The rest of the time Olivia was alone in her big house with all the doors and windows shut to keep out the heat and dust.” 1 likes
“The landscape which, a few weeks earlier, had been blotted out by dust was now hazy with moisture.” 1 likes
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