Fasting, Feasting – Anita Desai

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Fasting, Feasting was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1999.

The book begins in India, telling the story of Uma, the eldest daughter of a close-knit family. Uma struggles to find a suitable husband, and becomes trapped at home, effectively a slave to her oppressive parents. Although set in a different continent, it reminded me of Purple Hibiscus. The character development was excellent, and all the sights and sounds of an Indian village came to life.

The second part of the book follows Uma’s brother, Arun, as he crosses the world to begin life with a middle-class family in America. Arun observes many of problems associated with the developed world, including materialism and eating disorders. I found this section of the book disappointing in comparison to the parts set in India. The characters failed to come to life, and I began to lose interest as this section progressed.

Many important issues were raised in this book, including arranged marriage and the effective imprisonment of women in a household. Comparisons between lives in the two different cultures were made, but no real conclusions were ever drawn.

Overall, the writing was simple, but beautiful. The book began well, but failed to develop to it’s full potential. It was OK, but nothing special.

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  1. Laura says:

    I’m glad you reviewed this. I’ve not heard of it, but I think I’d like to check it out.

  2. Dina says:

    I’d like to read this – at least the first part. I find Indian culture fascinating.


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