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Why Su-prose? "Su" in Sanskrit is a prefix for "good". This is a place where we will discuss and analyze prose (with a South Asian Connection) - that which is good, awesome, excellent, and maybe rant about prose that could be better.

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Thursday, July 18, 2002

Book review of Vine Of Desire…

“Beautifully blends the chills of reality with the rich imaginings of a fairy tale,” says the Wall Street Journal. When Chitra Divakaruni started writing The Vine of Desire she was not really planning on a sequel to her earlier novel Sister of My Heart, but it evolved into one. She made it a point to write Vine of Desire as a book in itself, that someone could just pick up and read without having read its prequel. Stylistically also the two books are different, Sister of My Heart is a simpler telling of a story with two narrators while Vine of Desire is a much more narratively complex work with four narrators, 2 of them being men. There is also an omniscient narrator. Divakaruni once again returns to her touchstone themes of love, friendship, identity and assimilation.
Vine of Desire continues the story of Anju and Sudha, the two young women at the center of Divakaruni's bestselling novel Sister of My Heart. Far from Calcutta, the city of their childhood, and after years of living separate lives, Anju and Sudha rekindle their friendship in America. The deep-seated love they feel for each other provides the support each of them needs. It gives Anju the strength to pick up the pieces of her life after a miscarriage, and Sudha the confidence to make a life for herself and her baby daughter, Dayita-without her husband.
The women's bond is shaken to the core when they must confront the deeply passionate feelings that Anju's husband has for Sudha. Meanwhile, the unlikely relationships they form with men and women in the world outside the immigrant Indian community as well as with their families in India profoundly transform them, forcing them to question the central assumptions of their lives. Much of the novel is told through letters written back home and their mothers’ responses to them. Anjus sections are written as papers she is writing for her college classes
Divakaruni has written this as a book where she wanted to see many voices resonating, where many voices responded to the concept of desire and this comes through very well in the Vine of Desire. She also interlaces themes of how desire is perceived culturally and how it is viewed differently in India versus America. She also manages to adapt thoughts on how immigration changes the nature of desire. Individual desire and the pursuit of happiness become very important in a new country and new environment for the characters in this fascinating novel.

The Vine of Desire
DoubleDay Hardcover
Publication Date: Feb 2002
ISBN: 0-385-49729-6
Price: $23.95

Reviewed by Visi Tilak

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