Jun 03, 07
Read in June, 2007
I come away with a lot better impression than that which I had upon reading the first 30 or so pages. It is a mature writing, with insight, sophistication, and a sense of the grandly tragic.
The author weaves a series of parallel stories--imageries--about some very different lives, each quixotic, each distinguished with a color of it own. All except one has only one thing in common--they are all cultural implants, all dancing in their separate destinies, spinning towards their fate that makes them destitutes. Even the one exception--Gyan, the tutor--who is not a cultural implant, also becomes alienated from himself through the greater forces of time against which he is powerless. The book is an exploration of what makes us seek or reject our cultural identities, the tragedy that identification brings, and, like a bolt of lightening near the end, gives us the hint of a most ancient seeking that is the primitive archetype of all identities--our physical inheritance.
The novel weaves a series of vivid, parallel, worlds of intellect, emotion, culture, and geography, against the backdrop of the Colonial Raj, the 'Mother England', the new Indian republic and its growing pains, and of economic immigrants to the US. The writing is mesmerizing. The Himalayan ranges that blink through the cloud now and then majestically over the horizon remind us of the lofty ideals that are stepped on by the mortals. Abstract and intellectual in its aspirations, the novel is remarkably mature in its absence of proselytism. The younger Desai is one pukka novelist. Read the book.