saadia k's Reviews > Born Confused

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
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's review
Aug 03, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: south-asia, growing-up, ya
Read from July 16 to August 01, 2010

I really, really, really wanted to like this book. And, in some ways, I really did. In fact, though I had been trudging through its 500 pages for days and days, when I finally finished it late last night, I found myself feeling melancholy that it was actually over. It was a bittersweet farewell--almost like breaking up with someone you were like, sooooo totally into initally, but who quickly (as soon as the rush of pink to your cheeks wore away) began to bore you with all their incessant monologuing. When you finally call it quits, you feel that pang of sentimentality, thinking, "Huh, maybe it wasn't so bad afterall," or maybe, "Oh, now I remember what I saw in you to begin with, and I'm actually kind of going to miss the way you don't ever wear shoes and scrunch up your nose when you're thinking really hard."

So that's how I'm feeling now; I'm going to miss Dimple a little, and her parents and Kavita extra, but probably not Gwyn or Karsh or Radha or anyone else, because they were pretty lackluster. And I'm going to miss reading a book about South Asian characters, but I'm not going to miss all the labored and clumsy explanations of all-things-South-Asian. And I don't believe that I was annoyed by Hidier's lengthy explications (in pseudo-flowering prose) about the texture of jalebi and the origins of bhangra, etc. because I already know what these things are, but because I feel that Hidier is perhaps trying a bit too hard to make these things completely known to every single reader--she over-explains and over-describes and I find my eyes wandering and my mind lost in the paragraph-long, multi-claused sentence about the texture of jalebi, and then the taste of gulab jamaan, and then the aroma of kheer. (And yes, I do realize the length of that last sentence.) It feels a bit too heavy handed. And that's not to say I don't appreciate the enormity of the task that Hidier had before her, with BC being posited as the "first South Asian coming of age novel," but just that it didn't have to take it upon itself to sooooo self-conciously enlighten its readers.

So, not a messy, drawn-out, desperate break-up, but a vaguely sad one; one that leaves you looking for scrunched-up-noses on people you see for the next few days, and wondering why everyone is wearing shoes.
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07/16/2010 page 139

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Gizmology I take your point -- you obviously knew a lot about the culture before you read the book, so you got bored with all the explanatory detail on the subject. However, I didn't know much at all about contemporary "ABCD" life, so I was fascinated by every single thing. And I didn't feel lectured to, as I often do in such cases -- I felt that the way she described everything felt natural to me and seemed relevant where she included it. Anyway, just thought I'd share a viewpoint from someone who started out clueless and learned quite a lot. :)

N.A. Fedorak Same thing here. For me, it was very informative, and it felt well-balanced.

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