Wednesday, 8 December 2004

Book Review: The Mango Season (Amulya Malladi)

I'm usually not one to read Asian literature. With the recent influx of titles by Chinese and Indian authors in the market, I wouldn't even know where to start. Plus I have a general opinion that most of the books are almost the same anyway.

In fact, outside of Amy Tan and Salman Rushdie, I don't remember reading any other books by Asian authors (which either means that I didn't read any; or I did and forgot about it, because it was that unmemorable).

Anyway, I picked up Anulya Malladi's The Mango Season in the office book cabinet because it was nice and thin (which means I don't have to take too long to finish it), and the cover had nice juicy mangos on them (Mmmmmm....).

As expected, I finished it pretty quickly, and surprisingly, I kinda liked it. I guess I just might go back to those dust-covered copies of The God of Small Things and Mistress of Spices after all...

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Title: The Mango Season
Author: Amulya Malladi

Synopsis:
Priya Rao left India when she was 20. Seven years later, she returns to find her parents are intent on arranging her marriage to a suitable Indian boy. Priya can only guess at what their reaction would be if she were to reveal she has a fiance in America, a fiance of an entirely different race and religion.

Main Character:

  • Priya Rao - 27-year-old Indian girl engaged to an American, who has to go home to India after seven years away, to tell her parents about her fiance. The whole story revolves around her and her conflicts with her family.

What I Liked:

  • Short and sweet! (and I ain't talking about the mangoes)
  • Good development of the characters, even if they seem a little stereotypical
  • Asians should relate to this book, no matter whether you're Chinese, Indian or otherwise. After all, which unmarried twenty-something guy or girl has not been through the usual 'When are you going to get married' line by relatives?
  • Interesting insight into the traditions and relationships in a traditional Indian-Brahmin family
  • For those who like to cook, there are some recipes in the beginning of each chapter for some traditional Indian dishes using mangoes. Pretty nice touch, if you ask me. Even if you don't like the story, you can use it as a cookbook instead.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Some of the characters seem slightly clich├ęd
  • I'm not a fan of putting using excerpts from emails in a book, because to me, it just seems a bit forced. In this case, Priya communicates with Nick (her fiance) via email, and some of the emails just seem... unnatural.
  • The ending seems a little abrupt and too 'neat'.

Summary:

I kinda liked this book. It was easy to read, interesting, and you actually cared for the characters (even though some of them are somewhat stereotypical ). The relationship between Priya and her family is well developed, and the conversations were not boring, droning lectures.

Although I've not read that many books about Indian culture (or Chinese culture, for that matter), I found the culture and traditions covered in this book quite insightful, and interesting, and some of it I can relate to. After all, we are all Asians, and some things ARE the same, even between different races and religions.

All in all, a pretty good read.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well yeah. im agreeing tho