Verdict: Fans of Indian fiction will relish the local color of this atmospheric and poignant novel. Recommended for public libraries and academic institutions.
Previously published in India in 1980, this novel features Sarita, a well-educated woman struggling against the social norms of her traditional community. Plagued by distressing nightmares, she returns to her childhood home and her recently widowed father. The prolific Deshpande (The Long Silence) develops Sarita’s character with flashbacks and present-day vignettes narrated in both the first and third person. Spare language and description reinforce Sarita’s tenuous hold on sanity. Deshpande refuses to resolve her novel neatly, preferring instead to leave readers to wrestle with the same issues of female autonomy versus Vedic cultural norms with which Sarita must come to terms.—Dora Wagner, Northwestern Coll., Saint Paul, MN