DESIRABLE DAUGHTERS by Bharati Mukherjee


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Mukherjee (Leave It to Me, 1997, etc.) offers a striking portrait of three sisters living in two worlds: the traditional Brahmin society of upper-class Calcutta, where they were born, and the secular world of the modern West they moved to as adults.

Tara, who narrates, left Calcutta happily enough as a young woman and has rarely looked back. The youngest of three daughters of a Brahmin engineer and landowner, she grew up among the Bengali elite in an atmosphere that wavered between Hindu traditionalism and secular technocracy. Well-educated, she was married to an Indian computer designer who moved her to California and got rich in Silicon Valley. Tara became Americanized enough to divorce her husband after a few years and move to San Francisco with her son. There, however, she found herself brought sharply back to Calcutta when a young man named Chris Dey showed up at her door one day claiming to be the illegitimate son of her older sister Padma and bearing a letter of introduction from Ron Dey (a childhood friend of Padma’s), who claimed to be the boy’s father. But Padma, now a New York clothing designer, knows nothing of the boy, while Ron Dey, back in India, admits that the boy is his, but not by Padma—and denies ever sending him or a letter. The mystery deepens when Tara goes to the police, who ascertain that the boy isn’t really Chris Dey but an imposter using his passport. Meanwhile, Tara finds she’s being stalked by a Bengali gangster, and her ex-husband becomes implicated in a cyberterrorism threat by Indian hackers who say they’ll unleash a supervirus that could disable every hard-drive in the US. Forget not going home again—sometimes you can’t get away in the first place, even halfway across the globe.

A nice hybrid, combining the suspense of a good thriller with the atmosphere and texture of a family epic.

Pub Date: March 31st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7868-6598-9
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2002


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