Read La hiedra del deseo by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Free Online
Book Title: La hiedra del deseo|
The author of the book: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Edition: Ediciones B
Date of issue: October 28th 2005
ISBN 13: 9788466616997
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 2.88 MB
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Loaded: 1870 times
Reader ratings: 3.3
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This review ran in the San Jose Mercury News in 2002:
Do you know the sensation of getting near the end of a book and feeling the thickness of the pages left? As the remaining pages of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's new novel grew fewer I began to worry: Would there be room enough for what I wanted to know about the characters and their lives?
There was. Divakaruni's narrative in ''The Vine of Desire'' is as gracefully structured as a piece of chamber music, with its interplay of themes and voices, ensemble and solo, working their way toward a final resolving chord.
It begins with discord in the lives of the cousins Anju and Sudha, whom some readers have met in Divakaruni's earlier novel ''Sister of My Heart.'' Anju has miscarried and is emerging from a dark depression that has put a strain on her marriage to Sunil, an executive at a Silicon Valley company.
Back in India, Sudha has left her husband: When an ultrasound revealed that the baby Sudha was carrying was female, her domineering mother-in-law wanted to have it aborted. Sudha fled her home, her spineless husband divorced her, and she's trying to raise the infant, Dayita, by herself. So Anju and Sunil invite Sudha and Dayita to stay with them in their apartment in San Jose.
Soon after Sudha's arrival, Anju resumes her work toward a college degree and begins to find her metier in writing classes. Anju is particularly inspired by an instructor who introduces her to the letters and journals of 18th- and 19th-century women -- writers who were denied a larger literary fame: ''The instructor thinks of it as a great pity. Imagine all the letters that were lost, she said last week. All the diaries that were thrown away unread. What a waste. . . . Anju understood what she was saying. And yet -- what freedom it must have been! What exquisite loneliness.''
So Anju embraces such loneliness, seeking out a solitary space at the college where she can write: ''a room white as the inside of an egg, circular and without windows. . . . She has always thought of windows as distractions, drawing a person out of herself.''
But if solitude is freedom for Anju, it's oppression for Sudha, who stays in the apartment while Anju goes to class and Sunil to work. She cooks and cleans and tends to Dayita. And then one day Sunil returns to the apartmentwhile Anju is away and reveals his passion for Sudha. She repels his advances but can't bring herself to reveal the truth to Anju.
Their meals together become ''a tableau of silence: three people, inside their chests small black boxes, holding inside them smaller, blacker boxes. . . . Until at the very center of the chest, the secret of whose existence they are totally unaware. The secret of the self, already pollinated by time's spores, waiting to burst open when they are least prepared for it.''
Against these images of enclosure, isolation and solitude, Divakaruni plays an awareness of the larger world. The novel takes place in a specific time -- 1994, the year of, among many other things, the O.J. Simpson case, with which Sunil is oddly obsessed -- and a very specific place -- the Bay Area, a place that Sudha, like many immigrants, has difficulty coming to terms with.
Bay Area readers will relish the grace notes provided by Divakaruni's attention to local color. (She lives in the East Bay.) For example, there's the ostentatious Los Altos Hills trophy home where, at a party held by a successful Indian entrepreneur, Sudha meets Lalit Reddy, a handsome, thoroughly Americanized young surgeon, who begins to woo her. He takes her to Grizzly Peak to watch the sunset.
''Look,'' Lalit says. ''There's the campanile at Cal, there's the Bay Bridge, backed up as usual, there's Angel Island, where one time deer and immigrants were quarantined. . . .''
There's such fondness in his voice. I'm racked by jealousy. To belong to a place fully, to know it so well that you believe it belongs to you. Does he even guess how lucky he is?
Sudha also senses that, like Lalit, Anju has found something in America that Sudha can't feel, as when Anju describes a member of her writers' group:
''She's from Iran,'' Anju says. . . . ''Her family fled the country during Khomeini's rule. She's writing an essay about that time, particularly what happened to the women. . . . She said I had real talent and owed it to myself to develop it.''
Owed it to myself. It was not an idea we'd grown up with in Calcutta. Owed it to my parents, yes. My ancestors. My in-laws. My children. Teachers, society, God. But owed it to myself? Yet how easily Anju says it today.
What is it that I owe myself?
The strength of Divakaruni's novel is that it's built up through poignant insights into the hearts and minds of Sudha and Anju. We learn, for example, that Anju is more ambivalent about her life in the United States than Sudha supposes: When she's invited by her writers' group to go see a movie ''about Indians'' at Camera 3, Anju fears that she'll wind up defensively explaining that Indians don't really eat monkey brains or sacrifice virgins to Kali. Or else that it will be a serious movie by an Indian director about poverty or police brutality and that she'll find herself insisting that ''there's a lot more to India than what you're seeing here.''
Anju reflects on what it's like to ''love parts of your heritage so much that it tingles in your fingertips like pins and needles. You're ready to kill anyone who criticizes it. And then there are things about it that make you want to drive your fist through a window.''
Because Sudha is untethered to the culture in which she finds herself, her situation grows dire when the tensions among Anju, Sudha and Sunil in the too-small apartment finally erupt, sending each of them in a new direction. And then we occasionally see the novel's gears meshing and wheels turning. Divakaruni reaches into conventional, even sentimental, fiction to work out Sudha's destiny. I also think that neither of the principal male characters, Sunil and Lalit, quite comes off the page -- I suspect that Divakaruni hasn't spent as much time inside them as she has inside Anju and Sudha.
Yet once Divakaruni has established what course Sudha's life is to take, the richness of imagination that animates most of the book returns, and it moves to a lyrical resolution.
Divakaruni has established herself as an important writer -- just last year, her collection of short stories, ''The Unknown Errors of Our Lives,'' had reviewers reaching for superlatives. ''The Vine of Desire'' does nothing to undermine that reputation. If you find yourself counting the pages left in the book, it's likely to be because you wish there were many, many more.
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Read information about the authorChitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies. Her works have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese. Divakaruni also writes for children and young adults.Her novels One Amazing Thing, Oleander Girl, Sister of My Heart and Palace of Illusions are currently in the process of being made into movies. http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/books.... Her newest novel is Before We Visit the Goddess (about 3 generations of women-- grandmother, mother and daughter-- who each examine the question "what does it mean to be a successful woman.") Simon & Schuster.
She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and came to the United States. She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Master’s degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
To earn money for her education, she held many odd jobs, including babysitting, selling merchandise in an Indian boutique, slicing bread in a bakery, and washing instruments in a science lab. At Berkeley, she lived in the International House and worked in the dining hall. She briefly lived in Illinois and Ohio, but has spent much of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about. She now lives in Texas, which has found its way into her upcoming book, Before We Visit the Goddess.
Chitra currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ. of Houston. She serves on the Advisory board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and Daya in Houston. Both these are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. She is also closely involved with Pratham, an organization that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.
She has judged several prestigious awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award.
Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies by filmmakers Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges (an English film) and Suhasini Mani Ratnam (a Tamil TV serial) respectively. Her novels One Amazing Thing and Palace of Illusions have currently been optioned for movies. Her book Arranged Marriage has been made into a play and performed in the U.S. and (upcoming, May) in Canada. River of Light, an opera about an Indian woman in a bi-cultural marriage, for which she wrote the libretto, has been performed in Texas and California.
She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy. She has two sons, Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her children’s novels).
Chitra loves to connect with readers on her Facebook author page, www.facebook.com/chitradivakaruni, and on Twitter, @cdivakaruni.
For more information about her books, please visit http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/, where you can also sign up for her newsletter.
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