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The Age of Shiva: A Novelby Manil Suri
Synopses & Reviews
Following his spectacular debut, The Death of Vishnu, Manil Suri returns with a mesmerizing story of modern India richly layered with themes from Hindu mythology.
The Age of Shiva is at once a powerful story of a country in turmoil and an extraordinary portrait of maternal love. Meera, the narrator, struggles to establish herself against the male-dominated landscape of India after independence. Escaping her overbearing father, she falls into an ill-starred marriage with Dev, whose voice is as intoxicating as his physical demands are oppressive. His brother Arya lusts after her with the same intensity that fuels his right-wing politics, while in her sister-in-law Sandhya's company, Meera discovers a fleeting and heartbreaking eroticism. Only in her son, however, can Meera imagine fulfillment. She engulfs him with a love so deep, so overpowering, that she must fear its consequences.
Meera's compelling odyssey, embodying Shiva both as an erotic force and a symbol of patriarchy, places The Age of Shiva among the most important novels to come out of India in the last twenty years.
"The second novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) follows Meera Sawhney from her unhappy 1950s marriage to aspiring singer Dev Arora through to her own son's coming-of-age. After an impulsive act forces Meera's marriage at 17, her complex, controlling father decries her tying herself (and, by extension, her family) to the provincial, lower-class Aroras. Meera soon finds herself pulled in different directions by her in-laws' religious orthodoxy, her father's progressivism (which doesn't run deep), her husband's self-pitying alcoholism and her own resentment. She finds salvation in the birth of a son, Ashvin; mother love, which Suri describes in intensely physical terms, gives her life passion and purpose, and overwhelms her adult relationships. But as India modernizes, Meera senses that Ashvin, and she herself, must live their own lives. Suri renders Meera's perspective marvelously, especially in small particulars (such as Meera's deliberations around the cutting of Ashvin's hair) and in the perils and conflicts Meera faces in her relationships with men. He also takes a close look at Hindu practices and charts the rise of religious nationalism in the years following Gandhi's death. Suri's vivid portrait of a woman in post-independence India engages timeless themes of self-determination." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Non-Indian readers will be able to relate to the family dynamics here, but a passing knowledge of Indian customs and recent history...would be helpful. Recommended." Library Journal
"Manil Suri takes significant risks in his second novel....The only similarities between the two stories may be their setting in India and Suri's narrative skill." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Suri's vivid portrait of a woman in post-independence India engages timeless themes of self-determination." School Library Journal
Following his debut novel The Death of Vishnu, Suri returns with a mesmerizing story of modern India richly layered with themes from Hindu mythology.
'\"A stunning novel, proof that Manil Suri is a major storyteller of heart and intelligence.\" \'\"Amy Tan\n
The Age of Shivais at once a powerful story of a country in turmoil and an "unflinchingly honest" portrait of maternal love'""intricately interwoven with the ancient rites and myths" (Booklist) crucial to India's history. Meera, the narrator, is seventeen years old when she catches her first glimpse of Dev, performing a song so infused with passion that it arouses in her the first flush of erotic longing. She wonders if she can steal him away from Roopa, her older, more beautiful sister, who has brought her along to see him.It is only when her son is born that Meera begins to imagine a life of fulfillment. She engulfs him with a love so deep, so overpowering, that she must fear its consequences.Meera's unforgettable story, embodying Shiva as a symbol of religious upheaval, places The Age of Shivaamong the most compelling novels to emerge from contemporary India. Reading group guide included.
"In India's birth as a new nation parallels a woman's complex psychological journey confronting tradition and modernity. Exchanging sentimentality for clear vision, Suri reveals an immense humanity, and a tenderness for women making their way in a world of men. Drawn by this compelling narrative, I read this marvelous book in one sitting." --Kiran Desai, author of , recipient of the Man Booker Prize
About the Author
Manil Suri's first novel, The Death of Vishnu, won the 2002 Barnes and Noble Discover Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He lives in Maryland, where he is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
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