28 February, 2021

Soaporifically Inclined

A desi equivalent of an American soap or an Asian-American Mills & Boon?

Soaporifically Inclined
There is a gaping gully between deep emotion and sentimental slush in literature. Unfortunately, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni unfailingly swims for the latter shore—executing her valiant breaststrokes in trails of taffeta prose.

Her first novel, The Mistress of Spices, was a flaccid romantic conceit about a woman who ran a cornershop in San Francisco and healed fractured lives and migrant despair with Indian condiments. The book—with its array of susurrating sesame and compassionate cumin—reduced India to a culinary trope, melding nostalgia with the worst kind of exotica.

Since then, Divakaruni is several books older, and one would have hoped, several shades subtler. But though the tinselly magic realism is absent, The Vine of Desire is vintage Divakaruni. It continues the story of Sudha and Anju, the inseparable but star-crossed cousins of her last book, Sister of My Heart, and laves it with every conceivable stereotype. ‘Achingly’ beautiful Sudha is on the run from a divorce and a threatened abortion in India; Anju is recovering from a...

In this article:

More from Shoma Chaudhury

Latest Magazine

March 08, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section