Snapshots by Shobha De

51rI5YJCUDL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Snapshots by Shobha De is a story about four women who have a reunion after a gap of time. The story is told in flashbacks and narrates the events of an afternoon that the frinds spend together. It results in problems and a death (Noor).

Aparna, (husband Rohit, lover Prem), Reema Chandiramani (now Reena Nath, relationship with her brother-in-law), Surekha (housewife, dominating mother-in-law, has a lesbian relationship with her friend and Dolly), Rashmi (eleven-year-old Pips’ mother, middle name nymphomaniac, he is a bastard, father is a married movie director, Pips Sr who left her for a tidier home), and Noor (has an incestuous relationship with her brother, discovers the hidden microphones for the materials for Swati’s Sisters of the Subcontinent, and commits suicide at the end of the reunion).

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Kanthapura by Raja Rao

276624-raja-raoWhy are canonical works of literature, sometimes, not as wonderful as expected? Or is that one of the criteria for labeling a work ‘canonical’? Raja Rao‘s Kathapura is one such work. I had read the Introduction in an undergraduate class on Postcolonial Literature and how strangely the English language functions after independence and decolonization.”The telling has not been easy. One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought- movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word ‘alien,’ yet English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of our intellectual make-up-like Sansrit or Persian was before-but not of our emotional make-up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and in English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. We have to grown to look at the large world as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect which will some day prove to be as as distinctive and colorful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it.

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Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee

51Hz3j06xrLJasmine by Bharati Mukherjee narrates the story of Jyoti of Hasnapur, Punjab. It describes her struggles as a wife, and later, a caregiver and a partner in the US. each of her identity is connected to a change in name and place. She is seventeen years old when her husband is murdered and when she travels to the US as an illegal immigrant (connection to Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies).

Jyoti is the name given to her by her family; Jasmine is the name given b her Indian husband, Prakash Vijh; Jase is the name given by Taylor, the father of the girl, Duff, who employs her as a caregiver; and Jane, the name given by her second husband in Iowa, Bud Ripplemayer, a banker in Iowa who is paralyzed, and the adopted father of Du, a Vietnamese who also goes through similar struggles and who later leaves them to be with his sister.

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Brick Lane by Monica Ali

51W6004JQMLBrick Lane by Monica Ali, an example of postcolonial immigrant fiction, describes the story of Nazneen and her family. She is born in Bangladesh and moves to Tower Hamlets, London with her older husband, Chanu. Brick Lane is the street at the heart of the Bangladeshi community in London. There are two narrators: Nazneen as a third person narrator and her sister, Hasina through her letters to Nazneen.

Themes: family (both the married family of Chanu and family in Bangladesh); female solidarity for both Nazneen and her sister, Hasina; racism and clash of cultures; food and eating; home; and knowledge and education (as seen in Chanu’s certificates and degrees). The idea of the home, the return to the home, the idea on how to make the new place a home are all central concerns in an immigration novel, and described in detail in Brick Lane. There is also the symbol of ice skating which is a fantasy for Nazneen, means of freedom, and which Nazneen accepts at the end of the text. Religion also plays an important part, along with enterprises (Chanu’s employment in the government and as a cab driver, later his soap business), Nazneen’s work as a seamstress, and later her work as a designer with Razia. Also there is Mrs. Islam’s usury where she charges a 33% interest. Spoiler alert- Chanu returns to Bangladesh alone, to open a soap industry. Nazneen’s lover, Karim is also rumored to have returned to Bangladesh. Hasina also runs away with the cook at her place of employment.

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Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali

SOTPT-FShadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali sets up a basic duality of Islam and Christianity. It is the first of The Islam Quintet.  also traces the history of the clan of Hassan Banu Hudayl, complete with a family tree at the beginning of the novel (Ali 6). Family trees are extremely helpful, as are glossaries at the end of a novel. However, both seem to be important feature in foreign texts where words are not understood or even characters are too many (Rushdie and Marquez’s novels). The pomegranate tree is situated in the courtyard of the family, where two generations of daughters (aunt and niece) fall in love and meet their lovers.

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