Jebaraj Daniel's Reviews > The House of Blue Mangoes

The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar
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's review
May 17, 2012

it was amazing

A truly exhilarating book because it has many layers of complexity. It may be a little difficult for people not of Indian origin to fully comprehend some of the social issues relating to caste.

What makes the book all the more exciting is that though there are references to caste, Davidar does not explicitly mention the actual names of the caste groups involved but drops certain historical and socio-cultural clues that only an insider within the caste or a cultural and social historian may pick up on.

Being a member of the community and caste mentioned in the book enabled me to appreciate the book at a totally different level and live vicariously through the experiences of many of the characters who I could relate to.

At heart, Davidar uses the story creatively and passionately to explore several macro themes.

Tradition vs change
Conservatism vs liberalism
The past vs modernity
Conformity vs non-conformity
Arranged marriages vs romantic love

Perhaps what made the book all the more endearing was that Davidar showed how many individuals are often out of place in both polarities but fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. As the offspring of immigrant parents who left India several decades ago and having been born and brought up outside the Indian sub-continent, I could relate to all the issues in the book and that feeling of being trapped inbetween two very different worlds, both mutually opposed to each other and feeling ne'er at home anywhere, East or West.

A truly, brilliant book of remarkable cultural complexity, The House of Blue Mangoes is a must read for all people of the South Asian Diaspora.
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