Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Parul Kapur

Pub Date: March 1st, 2024
ISBN: 9781496236784
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

In post-independence Bombay, twin sisters struggle to meet their parents’ expectations and pursue their artistic passions.

Jaya and Kamlesh Malhotra are both following dual tracks, Jaya studying medicine while exploring her interest in painting and Kamlesh studying teaching and dance. Their parents are eager for them to be educated but see their creative hobbies as interests to be indulged only until they are married. But India is changing rapidly in the mid-1950s, and Jaya begins spending time alone with Kirti Dasgupta, a man she’s met at medical school, threatening her reputation. At the same time, she becomes engaged with Bombay’s flourishing and male-dominated modern art world. Her desire to pursue her artistic practice puts her on a collision course with her parents, and her decision to move in with another single woman causes a rift with Kamlesh, who despite her anger at Jaya is pursuing her own dreams of acting on the stage and screen. Interwoven with stories of the Malhotra family’s struggles against British rule and the violence of partition, which forced them to flee Punjab for Bombay, the novel interrogates the midcentury clash of modernity and tradition as the Malhotras grapple with both. The narrative can obscure the family’s history, which is introduced throughout the book, but the lack of clarity doesn’t take away from the rich legacy of rebellion Jaya and Kamlesh inherit or, in their way, advance.

An engaging examination of female independence and familial devotion.