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Set against the bi-cultural scene of contemporary India, this is a parable of miscomprehension and deficiency; the deficiency of the American, Richard, in asserting his manliness; of his young wife Helen to comprehend the complexities behond the margin of her own naive egoism; of Krishna, Richard's assistant and an untouchable, in his inability to maintain self-esteem before the standards of the Western sahibs; of Krishna's wife in her failure to respond to Krishna in any role but that of the submissive servant. When Richard, while on government business, succumbs to the charms of a sophisticated woman, Helen burns with a slow, vindictive hysteria. In an effort to find an emotional outlet she latches on to Krishna's problems--his confusion before Western aloofness, his alienation from his own world, his torment at the imminent death of his infant son. Richard, filled with self blame, agrees with Helen's demand that they accompany the Indian family to a local miracle healing. But the miracle is denied the heterogeneous group, caught in the vortex of a catastrophic panic in which thousands of Indians, lacking the strength or will to live, are crushed to death. The Americans with their characteristic impulse to survive escape to the futility of their own narrow existence. At its best, this novel is a restatement of A Passage to India, but lacks the warmth and vigor of that novel. The scenes depicting the Indian character are far superior to those dealing with the infantile longings of the Americans, but despite a definite discernment, the book suffers from the lack of sympathy it evokes toward any of its cheerless subjects.

Publisher: Doubleday