25 June 2007

Anita Desai - Fasting, Feasting

This novel had some reasonable acclaim when it was published in 1999, and a Booker shortlist nomination, but I didn't find it very satisfying. Neither as funny nor as moving as claimed, it has mostly plastic characters, and a relentless, downbeat tone of rejection and isolation.

The life of Uma, a plain woman dominated by her parents, tricked out of marriage 3 times and prevented from gaining either education or self-respect, is contrasted with that of Arun, her brother who is given every opportunity, goes to university in America, but finds himself alienated and unhappy. There is some wit, and a little substance to the social comment, but it's pretty light stuff.


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