Fasting, Feasting (BBC Radio 4) Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook
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Anita Desai, through her short stories and novels, two of which, Clear Light of Day and In Custody, have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is one of the most accomplished and admired chroniclers of middle-class India. In this, her latest novel, she tells the story of plain and lumpish Uma and the cherished, late-born Arun, daughter and son of strict and conventional parents--"MamaPapa" in Uma's mind, so united are they in their unyielding views and dictums.
Desai perfectly matches form and content: details are few, the focus narrow, emotions and needs given no place. Uma, as daughter and woman, expects nothing; Arun, as son and male, is lost under the weight of expectation.
Now in her 40s, Uma is at home. Attempts at arranged marriages having ended in humiliation and disaster, she is at the beck and call of MamaPapa, with only her collection of bangles and old Christmas cards for consolation.
Arun, at university in Massachusetts, is having to spend the summer with the Patton family in the suburbs: their fridge and freezer full of meat that no one eats, and Mrs Patton desperate to be a vegetarian, like Arun. But what Arun most wants is to be ignored, invisible.
The novel's counterpointing of India and America is a little forced, whereas Desai's focus on the daily round, whether in the Gangetic plain or suburban America, finely delineates the unspoken dramas in both cultures. And her characters, emblematic in their suffering. but capable of their own small rebellions, give Fasting, Feasting its sharp bite. --Ruth Petrie This review refers to the paperback edition of this novel.
"Desai is more than smart; she's an undeniable genius." (Washington Post) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In a parallel but secondary story, we hear about the tragic marriage and eventual death of her beautiful and brilliant cousin Anamika. The two themes converge at the end of the main story as Anamika's charred body is returned to her - and Uma's - home village for ritual cremation and the scattering of ashes. The tradition of arranged marriages which has been a source of sadness, humiliation - and no little humour - for Uma reveals a horrific side in Anamika's story. Uma is spiritually crushed, but Anamika is literally, physically destroyed.
The book ends with a more or less separate novella, describing Arun's experiences in the US, in rooms at Massachusetts University before being thrust into meat-eating, blue-collar, US suburbia for the summer, farmed out to family friends through an arrangement made back in India. Arun's childhood has been one of oppression, constantly coached and pushed by his father through a series exams and scholarships.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found the novel Fasting and Feasting used the themes of oppression and escape well to delicately convey the practices of traditional Indian culture to an uninformed western... Read morePublished 22 months ago by NickthePick
Absolute drivel. I feel I may have missed the point of this novel.Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have really enjoyed reading this novel. It is written well, flows smoothly but not blandly, and is compellingly interesting. Read morePublished on 3 April 2014 by ADAM
I really enjoyed this. It gave a ascinating, not always favourable picture of Indian middle class life and its effect on women. Read morePublished on 9 Feb. 2014 by J. A. Findlay
I couldn't put this book down, as I got so caught up with the characters. It was sad and funny, but left you with a feeling of so many frustrated lives. Read morePublished on 13 Jun. 2013 by howard woods
I love tales of India and thought this one would be an interesting read with the contrast between India and America. Read morePublished on 7 May 2011 by CJuniperG