From Publishers Weekly
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.
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Manil Suri’s debut novel, The Death of Vishnu
(PEN/Faulkner Award nominee, 2002), satirized families in a single apartment building in Bombay. The Age of Shiva
, about women’s subjugation, postindependence Indian politics, and Hindu-Muslim conflicts, offers a more panoramic view of Indian society. A few critics compared it to Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children
, but The Age of Shiva
is a smaller, tighter work, ambitious in scope if not as wholly successful. Written as a letter from Meera to her son, the novel shines with luminous prose, Hindu myths, and mother-child bonds, but bogs down as it chronicles the decades. Most critics agreed, however, that Suri effectively portrays Meera as the embodiment of an India caught between tradition and modernization.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.