Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Anita Desai ruminates on art and memory, illusion and disillusion, and the sharp divide between life's expectations and its realities in three perfectly etched novellas. Set in India in the not-too-distant past, the dramas illuminate the ways in which Indian culture can nourish or suffocate. All are served up with Desai's characteristic perspicuity, subtle humor, and sensitive writing. Overwhelmed by their own lack of purpose, the men and women who populate these tales set out on unexpected journeys that present them with a fresh sense of hope and opportunity. Like flies in a spider's web, however, they cannot escape their surroundings - as none of us can. An impeccable craftsman, Desai elegantly reveals our human frailties and the power of place.
"...ensnaring novellas of consummate artistry and profoundly disquieting perceptions...master storyteller...provocative and mysterious..." (Booklist)
"...poignant and wry...a deft exploration of the limits people place on themselves by trying to cling to the past." (Kirkus Reviews)
"This collection leaves an indelible impression of the conflicts and ambitions found in a region riddled with conflict." (Publishers Weekly)
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Grows on you
The beauty of this book is that one does not have an extreme rxn to it. It resides in the shade of memory for several days as potential more than form, then grows in intensity and takes its form with increasing recognition of its sublime truth. Kieslowski, the Polish director, made a film about missed connections, misplaced emphases and self-mistrust that springs to mind when I think about this book. Melancholic, wistful, but not without a passionate push to steer you right so that you might discover a different truth for your life.
At just 4+ hrs, it's perfect for an evening (or two, over the weekend). Definitely not for cowards.