Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All is Fine in India

Have you noticed that at the bottom of my last 4 posts, I have said "Still listening to:  The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai"  without further comment?  That's because I was trying to hold my judgment.  The Inheritance of Loss won the Man Booker Prize in 2006, so I was expecting a great book.  Unfortunately, what I found was a book that was fine.  Not good, not bad, just fine.

Inheritance is set in rural India, where a girl, Sai, is being raised by her grandfather and his cook.  The grandfather is a former judge, and is quite proud and distant, both from his granddaughter and his fellow Indian people.  There are some kind neighbors, who are the most likable characters in the book.  The story takes place during a time of revolution, and the main characters are not interested in losing their current way of life, but are not exactly fighting to keep it either.

I have read other books set in India over the last couple of years that were also fine.  Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was a sweet, but predictable story of two girls being raised by their mothers after their fathers are killed while hunting for rubies.  The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan was a long, generation spanning story of a mother's efforts to raise her children into "proper" adults after her husband dies young, with caste rules, customs, and superstitions dictating her every action.  Both of these were pleasant books, like Inheritance, but they just didn't move me.

So the search begins:  There must be a great, powerful, moving book set in India, which I have missed.  Any suggestions?

Next up on CD:  Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Still reading:  The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd

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