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Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Fire in the Heart - review of Suri by Caryn James

We all live in the shadow of history, and the play of its lights and shades over individual lives is the stuff of historical fiction. In his sweepingly ambitious, captivating second novel, “The Age of Shiva,” Manil Suri creates a woman who is never an actor in the great events of India’s post-independence decades but cannot escape their power to shape her.

Jon Han


By Manil Suri.

455 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $24.95.

The heroine, Meera, is smart, yet all too willing to subjugate herself. Her adulthood begins in Delhi in 1955 at a fifth-

anniversary celebration of the founding of the Indian republic, when the fireworks and excitement encourage her to fall disastrously in love. Her story goes on for the next 25 years. As she moves to Bombay and becomes an obsessively loving mother, the novel occasionally flashes back to her girlhood, when her prosperous Hindu family fled the Muslim-controlled city of Rawalpindi, in what would soon become Pakistan. But while she floats through a society in which women’s roles are rapidly changing, Meera and her era are variables in a more basic, almost mathematical formula: Scarlett O’Hara + the Civil War = “Gone With the Wind.” [for more click on the heading]


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