Thursday, 10 February 2011

Reading for pleasure, not for my classes I had indulged in Manju Kapur's 'Difficult Daughters' - a superb novel and greedy for more I espied a copy of 'A Married Woman' at the library and read it. The latter did not have the same impact on me as her debut novel. I still think she tackles the role of a middle class Indian woman very well. The characterisation of Astha, the protagonist of 'A Married Woman' starts off well in the opening chapters. Unfortunately the story then meanders a lot and deals with various issues of her parents lives, her aspirations, her sexual love for her husband (quite explicit scenes) her day job as a teacher, her children and her abiding passion as an artist. The demolition of the Babri Masjid is the political scenario that Astha becomes aware of and then gets lured into it by the young leader. She donates a painting of hers for the cause. The novel then moves onto her brief affair with the young protest leader who dies tragically in the riots. Much later Astha meets Peepilika, the partner of her dead lover and a lesbian affair ensues. Kapur has tackled too many subjects in this novel.

I have just started Nathacha Appanah's 'The Last Brother', again borrowed from the library. The novel appealed to me as there is a personal connection. I have a very close Mauritian friend with a daughter named Natasha and I had to read the book to learn more about the island. I've only read the first 50 pages and I can see why it has had rave reviews. In the very moving opening chapter Raj is reminiscing about his childhood friend David and visits his grave. The wonderful descriptions of Mapou, the sugar plantations, his alchoholic father and two brothers who die tragically on the same day draws you into the novel.The family move to Beau Bassin where the father becomes a prison warder and that's where Raj meets his friend David a young Jewish boy from Prague. Their friendship is the theme of the book. The translation by Geoffrey Strachan is superb.I'm sure it will 'become a classic of childhood literature' as it says on the book's blurb. Another great find by 'Quercus Books'the publishers.

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