Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Date of Reading: 14/09/2006
Author: Anita Desai
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Year: 1999
Place: London

          Uma is an ordinary Indian girl who lives with her parents, her sister Aruna and brother Arun. She is not clever and consequently fails in the exams continuously. Her parents take it as an excuse to stop her studies so that there will be someone to take care of Arun. Though they decide to marry her off nobody needs an uneducated not-fair girl. They are cheated two times. These two people grabbed the dowery and after that shamelessly withdrew from the marriage.
           On the other hand, Aruna's life goes on smoothly as she is fair and educated and her marriage also causes no troubles. Arun is sent to U.S. for further studies and the second part of the book is about his life there.
          There is also a glimpse of the lives of Uma's female relatives. Anamika, her cousin, was clever in her studies and she even got a scholarship to study in America. But her parents fix her marriage and she is not allowed to go. Later she kills herself due to the torments of her mother-in-law.
          Mira-massi is a distant relative and is Uma's favourite. She is very religious and spends her time by visiting temples.
          Uma stays in her house taking care of her parents and at the end of the story she is 43.

Rating: Excellent

          Title indicates the two parts of the novel - Uma is the fasting portion as she is of the 'second sex' and Arun is the feasting one. Two parts give two different aspects of the same Indian family.
          Novel is a brief glance to the condition of Indian women. Some of the problems are resolved now, but Anamikas are still there and skin colour is a great issue in marriage market as our advertisements remind us everyday.
          Desai's is a brilliant depiction of Indian family and the prose is easy to read and quite beautiful. This is a must read work.
--- the second part, Arun's life in U.S., is boring. It is felt as a digression.
--- Book was shortlisted for Booker Prize.

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