A fascinating appendix to the struggle for Indian independence

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OF MANGOES AND MONSOONS

Kanekar’s debut is both a historical novel of midcentury India and a portrait of the philosopher as a young man.

India freed itself from English colonial rule and became a nation on Aug. 15, 1947. But well into the next decade, pockets of the subcontinent remained under French and Portuguese control. One of these pockets was Goa, a small enclave on the country’s western coast that, during the ’50s, fought covert and overt battles against Portugal in the hopes of throwing off foreign rule. Enter Ramesh Natekar, a young intellectual coming of age during the Goan struggle for independence. He is a student, a thinker and a teacher who studies philosophy and teaches English and history. A thoughtful young man, he reads Marx, Freud, Plato and Spinoza in an effort to mold his mind. But he is also a budding revolutionary who believes that Goa has struggled for too long under Western domination and deserves to take its rightful place as part of the new India. Though Ramesh, like Gandhi, is devoted to nonviolent resistance, he is arrested for his involvement with freedom protesters and jailed. The novel follows Ramesh’s principled fight for Goan self-determination. But into this tale of political intrigue, the author weaves stories from Ramesh’s youth and adolescence, and the novel is as much about personal growth as it is about political intrigue. Steamy cutaways to Ramesh’s romantic intrigues—including one with an upper-caste woman who is his true love—spice up the narrative. As Kanekar adds detail and depth to his protagonist’s portrait, Ramesh’s own development becomes a metaphor for the maturation of Goa, and Ramesh’s labors and triumphs mirror those of his homeland. Kanekar writes with a sure hand, artfully blending historical analysis, personal narrative and philosophical digression into a satisfying whole.

A fascinating appendix to the struggle for Indian independence

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1441554420

Page Count: -

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2010

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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