Monday, March 28, 2005

After watching the new Bollywood film "Bride and Prejudice" (an excellent movie), I was inspired to check out from the library the work of two Indian authors, Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Though the former has apparently won some award or other, I found her short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, greatly inferior to all the books I've read by the latter. Divakaruni possesses the knack of creating rich stories and sympathetic characters while evoking culture and heritage and country in her style. Of the two books I just read, Sister of My Heart and its sequel The Vine of Desire, I liked the first one best even though it was clearly intended to have a sequel. The story follows the relationship between Anju and Sudha, girl cousins raised in the same house and so close they are more like twins in their intuition and intimacy. As they grow older the bond between them necessarily changes with experiences, but love, tragedy, secrets, husbands, pregnancy, and a move to America cannot keep them apart. I loved Sudha and the core of strength she possessed that kept her from compromising herself when she saw how harmful it could be, and I wished Anju had learned from her instead of retreating into victim-mode. Together the two books provided an interesting portrait of people who allow things in life to change them and people who change themselves.

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