©2006 Kiran Desai; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.
"Briskly paced and sumptuously written." (The New Yorker)
"Desai imaginatively dramatizes the wonders and tragedies of Himalayan life and, by extension, the fragility of peace and elusiveness of justice, albeit with her own powerful blend of tenderness and wit." (Booklist)
"In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai deftly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a 'better life', when one person's wealth means another's poverty." (Publishers Weekly)
While the writing is rich and often wonderful, the grim world view of Desai's tale weighs on the listener. There is much to ponder on the despairing gap between the haves and the have nots, and the view of the immigrant's life is searing and unforgettable.
But in listening, some of the beauty and complexity of the written word is lost, despite the talents of the narrator, who grew on me. What a crippled and woe-be-gone cast of characters, and what a sad and harsh hand they are dealt. Biju's helpless tumble is almost unbearable. Desai tosses us one crumb of hope at the end but I was numb at that point.
Five stars for the book and five stars for the reader. The book is one of the best works of fiction I've listened to in a long time. The reader contributes much to giving the listener the feeling of being there by her use of a different accent for each character.
The reading of this book is absolutely marvelous - many accents come in quick succession and are completely believable. At first the story is amusing; later it becomes truly tragic, and paints an accurate picture of major problems in India, and for Indians.
This is by far one of the most wonderful listening experiences I've had in a long time. Meera Simhan's narration was outstanding, and Kiran Desai's story was excellent. I want to start at the beginning and listen all over again. The characters are varied and fascinating, the historical events are woven into the story beautifully, the imagery of the geographical area of Kalimpong is stunning, and the internal lives of the characters are drawn with such finesse that this book is compelling and nuanced. Bravo to Kiran Desai and Meera Simhan.
Lots of insight into modern India and it's connections to the US and Europe in the post-colonial world. Very interesting in this moment of hysteria over illegal immigration, but I wish it had a clearer plot. I'm glad to have heard it, but I'm gladder it's over.
As an Asian immigrant myself who grew up most of his life in London and went to University there, I immediately connected with the story and the old judge. I now live in the USA and the story of Biju struggling to earn his keep seems so real in so many ways for new migrants. There are so many beautiful and colorful characters in this story each with their own wonderful tales and I was totally lost in nostalgia for the old “Raj”. The English certainly left an indelible mark in India and post-independent India never recovered. In one sense, this is the story of moving-on and yet it is also the story of longing for the old ways. The vocal delivery is absolutely top-notch in this release. I loved this book and it should not be missed!
This profile is under my husband's name since Audible merged with Amazon. So just call me Bob. Or wife of Bob. Or the reader in the family. Whatever.
This was a difficult story to hear, but moving and enlightening. The characters are mercilessly exposed. If you are interested in Indian culture and not afraid to have your prejudices poked a bit....
I really wanted to like this book. However, I found the narration very tedious. The characters were not likeable or sympathetic and the author seems overly-concerned with describing bowel movements and other bodily functions. Just not for me.
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