In 1899, in the south Indian village of Chevathar, renowned for its groves of a rare variety of blue mango, Solomon Dural is contemplating the imminent destruction of his world and everything he holds dear. As the thalaivar, or headman, of Chevathar, he seeks to preserve the village from both catastrophe and change, and the decisions he makes will mark his family for generations to come.
Richly emotional and abundant in historical detail, The House of Blue Mangoes is a gripping family chronicle that spans nearly a half century and three generations of the Dorai family as they search for their place in a rapidly changing society. Whether recruited into the burgeoning independence movement, apprenticed In ancient medical arts, or managing a British tea plantation, the Dorai men nevertheless Find themselves drawn back to their ancestral land by profound emotional ties that transcend even the most powerful forces of history.
Reminiscent of the fiction of R. K. Narayan and Vikram Seth, Davidar's novel brings to life a culture under assault by modernity and offers a stark indictment of colonialism, while reflecting with great poignancy on the inexorable social transformations of the subcontinent.
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A memorable experience is in store for the reader of David Davidar's The House of Blue Mangoes. In a similar fashion to Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, Davidar's ambitious novel set in India relates many stories in one, each ineluctably merging into the other. We are shown three generations of an old family in the oceanside village of Chevathar. The patriarch Solomon strives to maintain equilibrium as caste struggles begin to create harsh conflict in the village, while his sons endure triumph and disaster as India inaugurates its battle for independence and his grandson, who may be the last of the line, undertakes his own bid for independence. All of these characters are drawn with a mercurial vividness, and Davidar has a Tolstoyan sense of the larger canvas--his epic covers the spectrum of heroes and rogues, clans and dynasties, the ugly and the beautiful.
The narrative, alternately measured and hectic, richly weaves together assassinations and passionate affairs, exorcisms and beggars' banquets. Davidar's models are often stories from India's great epics, but the fascination of the everyday is never overlooked, from making a perfect cup of tea to whipping up a flavorsome biryani. Along with the tribulations of the protagonists, we are shown the various strategies Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill used in their battles, and we see how the English memsahibs played their part in the downfall of the Raj. The mangoes of India, a key image in the novel, suggest the heady, ripe taste of this engrossing and thoroughly individual novel. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.ukAbout the Author:
David Davidar began his career in Journalism and now works In publishing. He is married and lives in New Delhli.
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