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Jasmine Paperback – April 5, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

&quto;Lifetimes ago, under a banyan tree in the village of Hasnapur, an astrologer cupped his ear ... and foretold my widowhood and exile," relates Jyoti, fifth cursed daughter in a family of nine. Though she can't escape fate, Jyoti reinvents herself time and again. She leaves her dusty Punjabi village to marry as Jasmine; travels rough, hidden airways and waters to America to reemerge as Jase, an illegal "day mummy" in hip Manhattan; and lands beached in Iowa's farmlands as Jane, mother to an adopted teenage Vietnamese refugee and "wife" to a banker. Bharati Mukherjee (The Middleman and Other Stories) makes each world exotic, her lyrical prose broken only by the violence Jasmine almost casually recounts and survives. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This novel relates both the odyssey and the metamorphosis of a young immigrant from rural India. Her story is often shocking: the violence of the rape that greets her on her first night in America is certainly no greater than that of the crazed Sikh extremists who made her a widow at age 17 in India. Yet neither the character nor her story is held back by this violence. Along the way Jaze acquires three children, including Du, a Vietnamese boy who like herself is an immigrant. Finally, still only in her early twenties, Jaze takes off to pursue her own version of the American dream. The novel has a delicious humor and sexiness that make it a treat to read. The author is this year's winner of the National Book Critics Circle fiction award for The Middleman and Other Stories ( LJ 6/1/88).
- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, Ore.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (April 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802136303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802136305
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Award-winning Indian-born American author Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta (now called Kolkata) in 1940, the second of three daughters born to Bengali-speaking, Hindu Brahmin parents. She lived in a house crowded with 40 or 50 relatives until she was eight, when her father's career brought the family to live in London for several years.

She returned to Calcutta in the early 1950s where she attended the Loreto School. She received her B.A. from the University of Calcutta in 1959 as a student of Loreto College, and earned her M.A. from the University of Baroda in 1961. She next travelled to the United States to study at the University of Iowa, where she received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1963 and her Ph.D. in 1969 from the department of Comparative Literature.

After more than a decade living in Montreal and Toronto in Canada, Mukherjee and her husband, internationally acclaimed author Clark Blaise, returned to the United States. She wrote of the decision in "An Invisible Woman," published in a 1981 issue of "Saturday Night." Mukherjee and Blaise co-authored "Days and Nights in Calcutta (1977) and "The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy (Air India Flight 182)" (1987).
Mukherjee taught at McGill University, Skidmore College, Queens College, and City University of New York. She is currently a professor in the English department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mukherjee is best known for her novels "The Tiger's Daughter" (1971); "Wife" (1975); "Jasmine" (1989); "The Holder of the World" (1993); "Leave It to Me" (1997); "Desirable Daughters" (2002); "The Tree Bride" (2004); and "Miss New India" (2011). Her short story collections and memoirs include "Darkness" (1985); "The Middleman and Other Stories" (1988); and "A Father". Non Fiction works include: "Days and Nights in Calcutta"; and "The Sorrow and the Terror."

She was the winner of the 1988 National Book Critics Circle Award for "The Middleman and Other Stories."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By George Schaefer on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
This novel is a really moving tale. This is my first time reading Mukherjee's writing but it won't be the last. I found it to be a compelling read from start to finish. The story of how a young Indian girl becomes an American is intriguing. The evolution of Jyoti into Jasmine into Jane is gripping. I enjoyed the way Mukherjee wove this tale. She includes flashbacks to her past to let the reader see the past of Jasmine. It allows for empathy as the reader is led through the tragedies of her early life. Her resolve is extraordinary. She has to overcome the murder of her husband, terrorism in her homeland, a rape and many other hardships along the way. You can see how different events shape her views and attitudes. She begins to think and act for herself. There is sorrow and pain on the way but it is ultimately a tale of liberation. It's another example of the indomitable human spirit. Definitely a book that should be widely read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book had a profound effect on me, despite the fact that I generally avoid the theme of the immigrant experience. In any case, the book succeeds in integrating so many completely diverse settings... Iowa, an impoverished Indian village, New York, Florida... This is done quite artfully; the book is simple to read and not too hard to understandl it achieves depth with simple language, which is always pleasing. Reading it for the first time was somewhat shocking - every new development in the plot is marred with violence stemming from some bizzare twist of fate. Despite all this, a sense of hope is conveyed in a way that is not artificial, and sustained all throughout. Nonetheless, it paints a disturbing picture of traditional India: the caste system, the miserable status of women, the horrors facing a widow, the overall poverty and pervading corruption, the religious wars... all this leaves an imprint on Jasmine (the main character) and haunts her even in the States, even in the remote Iowa. The realism with which all this is served to the reader reminds of Stephen Crane's work, especially "Maggie, a Girl of the Streets" (another powerful piece...) Whatever your literary taste, it is likely that you will enjoy this direct, powerful, and eye-opening work. The only reason I withhold the last star is the unexpected and unfulfilling ending, which in my view ruined the integrity that Jasmine built throughout her difficult life journey, which filled me with a certain optimism up to that point. If it was meant as a liberating finale, then the cost of ruining Jasmine's benevolence was too high. But up to the last page, an excellent read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fitzgerald Fan VINE VOICE on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't let the cheesy cover fool you, this book is amazing. It is brutally honest and intense, as well as impossible to put down. The story revolves around a woman with a multitude of identities, one to fit each phase of her ever changing life. "Jasmine" (aka Jyoti and Jane) is a woman who survives poverty and ignorance in a small Indian village, only to be rewarded with brutality. Her journey to America is beyond taxing, and what she must do to survive it is harrowing, if not downright shocking at times.
Jasmine is faced with much turmoil and many choices, none of which are easy. Her life is far from conventional, but it says volumes about what it must be like to forge a new life in a new place with an identity that even she is not certain of.
I found that the ending was a little abrupt, but other than this, I have no complaints. Mukherjee is a vivid and serious writer, one who will leave you with an often times visceral reaction.
Warning: I have heard some complaints about the beginning chapters being mildly confusing concerning character introductions, but I assure you, if you stick with it, what she is doing will become clear quite quickly. This author's technique of introducing characters is very unique and effective and gives the reader a real sense of time without being exactly linear.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By alicia on May 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This novel captivates its reader from beginning to end. Jasmine, the protagonist of the story faces many challenges and obstacles that she must overcome in order to make sure her catastrophic destiny is not fulfilled. She has survived being married without a dowry (for she is the fifth daughter of nine children), being widowed at less than nineteen years of age, illegally immigrating into a foreign land, raped on her first day in America, and choosing between love and duty.

Mukherjee's style of writing is unique and difficult to grasp at first. She would refer back to the past or fast forward into the present periodically so the reader must constantly `be on their toes.' She leaves `cliffhangers' at the end of paragraphs or chapters that are reunited with their explanations of what would happen in later chapters. Mukherjee would leave her readers in curiosity as she skips around in her time machine within her story.

Mukherjee wrote eloquently as she weaved Jasmine's various identities into one novel. Jasmine, who is also Jyoti, Jazzy, Jase and Jane, is faced between clinging to her `feudalistic traditions' or her `new western-thinking traditions.' Each identity of hers represents a new lifestyle and a new challenge that she must conquer. She experiences a sense of two sides inside her, each competing to grasp the fullness of her whole body and soul.

Jasmine was torn between assimilating into American freedom and society vs. being bound to her deep-rooted traditions. Characters within the novel assist the protagonist in her journey as she tries to battle her fate and destiny. Overall, the book was well written and packed with a journey between Jasmine's duty as an Indian woman and freedom that she desires in America.
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