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In her first novel since her debut with The Journey, Indira Ganesan gives us the story of Sonil, who at fifteen has come to her adored grandmother's house on a paradisiacal island off the coast of India ("a tiny eye, to the teardrop that was Sri Lanka") to mend her shaky health. She has been living on the mainland with her aunts, to whom she was sent by her mother when she was a baby, and she yearns to find out why she was exiled and where her American father might be.
On the island, she spends her time studying Italian with her absentminded uncle . . . talking about boys and clothes with her favorite cousin, Jani . . . spying on her mysteriously distant mother. The gorgeous surroundings--the mango trees, the flowers, the heat, the monkeys--awaken her senses, and ours too, as she settles in for a seemingly endless summer.
Little by little, her spirits revive, and we see Sonil begin to move out of the magical world of her grandmother's compound into the wider life of the island, until she finds the perfect escape from her mother's rejection in a passionate affair with a young American. It is through her feelings for him that she begins to discover the means to forgive her mother and to look to herself for the answers she will need in the coming years.
Inheritance is a lush, lovely novel that transports us to a timeless place, an exotic island crossroads of many peoples and cultures--an Eden where the drama of love and family, loss and acceptance, still works its powerful and encompassing magic.
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Remember all those hippies who ran off to India in the 1970s in search of enlightenment? One of the little delights of Indira Ganesan's Inheritance is getting an Indian view of how those truth-seekers fit into the culture and affected the people around them. A kind of mild feminism guides this unassuming novel of adolescence and self-discovery, set on an island off the Indian coast. The story meanders with its 15-year-old narrator, Sonil, whose chronic poor health has landed her a prolonged break from school at the home of her grandmother. There, time drifts, and events unfold in the flat, unquestioned perspective of youth. Sonil is fatherless, and men appear only fleetingly as silhouettes, sharply outlined but unfathomable. Her relationships with the three generations of women in the household--especially her hostility toward her aloof, eccentric mother--define the girl. But she encounters a young American man, in India to study Ayurvedic medicine, and for a while, the chaos of Sonil's sensuality focuses on Richard, a passionate but emotionally immature hippie, twice her age.
Through her short-lived relationship with him (lots of lovemaking to the music of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and the Talking Heads), the wavering line of her life begins to trace a circle, leading her back to her mother and her unknown father, an American who disappeared from India before Sonil was born. Her inheritance, it seems, is a mandala, full of repeating patterns, which, as the book ends, Sonil is beginning to draw deliberately. Ganesan's prose style has a frank simplicity that is pleasing but evanescent.About the Author:
Indira Ganesan was born in Srirangam, India, and moved to the United States when she was in grammar school. She graduated from Vassar College and received an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is on the faculty of the English Department at Southampton College on Long Island, and is a 1997-98 Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College. Her first novel was The Journey, and she was a Granta Best Young American Novelist Award finalist.
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Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # Q-0679434429