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THE SEDUCTION OF SILENCE by Bem Le Hunte Kirkus Star


by Bem Le Hunte

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052197-X

A kaleidoscopic debut by Anglo-Indian Le Hunte about several generations of an Indian family through the 20th century and across several continents.

Aakash was the son of a well-to-do family in a small village near the Himalayas who at an early age became known for his powers of healing; when he cured the hemophiliac son of a local maharaja, he was rewarded with a gift of land, which he turned into an “ayurvedic farm.” Although the farm prospered greatly and Aakash had two healthy children by his wife Jyoti Ma, he could never settle down to enjoy the life of a patriarch, and he eventually left his family to live in a distant ashram. His son Ram also grew up to be a wandering holy man, while his daughter Tulsi Devi was sent to a convent school where she was seduced by her math teacher and gave birth to a son (Jivan) out of wedlock. She later married a retired British Army officer and had a daughter (Rohini) by him. The sickly Jivan, who contracted polio as a small boy, was sent to a foster home to be raised by strangers, and Rohini grew up entirely ignorant of her half-brother. Years later, she would marry an Englishman and move to London, where she trained as a midwife, gave birth to a daughter (Saakshi), and became connected with the Spiritualist Church in Belgravia, where she attended regular séances to contact the spirit of her grandfather Aakash. The medium in charge of these séances stunned Rohini one day by confiding to her that her daughter Saakshi was going to give birth to an avatar, a reincarnation of Aakash’s spirit. Rohini has put much of her Indian traditions behind her. Can she really believe that her grandchild will, in fact, be her grandfather? Just think of the old Hindu totem of the serpent eating his own tail.

A splendidly conceived saga weaving the history of an entire culture into the portrait of one family: vivid, compelling, utterly fascinating.