India, 1955: as the scars of Partition are just beginning to heal, seventeen-year-old Meera sits enraptured on the balcony of a college auditorium in Delhi. In the spotlight is Dev, singing a song so infused with passion that it arouses in her the first flush of erotic longing. She wonders if she can steal him away from Roopa, her older, more ...
India, 1955: as the scars of Partition are just beginning to heal, seventeen-year-old Meera sits enraptured on the balcony of a college auditorium in Delhi. In the spotlight is Dev, singing a song so infused with passion that it arouses in her the first flush of erotic longing. She wonders if she can steal him away from Roopa, her older, more beautiful sister. When Meera's reverie comes true, it does not lead to the fairy-tale marriage she imagined. Dev's family is steeped in the very kind of orthodoxy her father has spent his life railing against. Meera has no choice but to obey her in-laws, tolerate Dev's drunken night-time fumblings, even observe the most arduous of Hindu fasts for his longevity. She must also fend off Dev's brother, Arya, whose right-wing zeal and lascivious gaze she finds repellent. Her only solace is in her sister-in-law Sandhya, with whom she comes to share a tenderness that is as heartbreaking as it is fleeting. A move to Bombay, so that Dev can chase his dream of success as a Bollywood singer, seems at first like a fresh start, but soon that dream - and their marriage - turns to ashes. It is only when their son is born that things change. For the first time, Meera feels fulfilled. She is finally ready to shape her own destiny, to take control of her world. A sweeping epic that traces the fortunes of a family in the aftermath of Indian independence, The Age of Shiva is the powerful story of an ancient society in transition and an extraordinary portrait of maternal love.
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Manil Suri's "Age of Shiva" is a worthy successor to his earlier "Death of Vishnu." Once again he tells an intensely moving human story, one modelled loosely on Hindu mythology. This story is at once very Indian, and very universal. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am giving it to friends for Xmas, birthdays, etc. If you haven't read Suri, you are missing out.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-10-22 The second novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) follows Meera Sawhney from her unhappy 1950s marriage to aspiring singer Dev Arora through to her own son's coming-of-age. After an impulsive act forces Meera's marriage at 17, her complex, controlling father decries her tying herself (and, by extension, her family) to the provincial, lower-class Aroras. Meera soon finds herself pulled in different directions by her in-laws' religious orthodoxy, her father's progressivism (which doesn't run deep), her husband's self-pitying alcoholism and her own resentment. She finds salvation in the birth of a son, Ashvin; mother love, which Suri describes in intensely physical terms, gives her life passion and purpose, and overwhelms her adult relationships. But as India modernizes, Meera senses that Ashvin, and she herself, must live their own lives. Suri renders Meera's perspective marvelously, especially in small particulars (such as Meera's deliberations around the cutting of Ashvin's hair) and in the perils and conflicts Meera faces in her relationships with men. He also takes a close look at Hindu practices and charts the rise of religious nationalism in the years following Gandhi's death. Suri's vivid portrait of a woman in post-independence India engages timeless themes of self-determination. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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