The house of blue mangoes a novel
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A review of The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar
The book is an easy, compelling novel — the kind of book you can take to the beach, or read on a long flight, without unduly straining yourself. In short, it is a good story, albeit not one which lends itself to re-reading, or even the kind of post-read ponder that literary fiction usually inspires. While The House of Blue Mangoes lacks the kind of depth, or narrative intensity that makes for great literature, and is more craft than art, the book is well constructed, and carefully researched, and will appeal to readers who read solely for its relaxation effect or its ability to recreate a specific time or place. Reviewed by Magdalena Ball. Although there are extraordinary activities that occur in this rather long generational saga, it is the ordinary that drives the story. Despite the large historical background to this novel, the focus is very much on the personal lives of the Dorais, and the impact of the changes to their world on their lives. There are a number of fairly brutal acts, including the rape that takes place early on and signals the change to the sleep town of Chevathar, a mindless but vicious assassination, and a war on the beach, where an innocent man is graphically killed as he tries to help.
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To carry his story he employs three generations of the same family, the Dorais, who, at the start of the book in , are the main landowners of Chevathar, and Christians in the face of the caste tensions of the time. Out of the introductory steam of the licking tongue tip set between the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar comes the pacesetter, the rape of a young girl. The crime is a hangover from the infamous Breast Wars of The women of the lower castes had to leave their breasts uncovered for the pleasure and perusal of their caste superiors. When Christianity and missionary zeal made its mark in the region those who converted were encouraged to cover their breasts. Riots ensued. The flames died down, but the resentment lingered on, like the sweetness of the blue mangoes.
Jump to navigation. Many years ago, as one of fiction's finest citizens, Colonel Aureliano Buendia of One Hundred Years of Solitude , faced the firing squad, he "was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear waters that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs". Many years later, in one of fiction's fabulous geographical journeys, remembrance has reached another riverbank, another village. Standing by the river in the remotest south, gazing at the ancient waters that define his own private Macondo, is novel's newest redeemer, struggling to paraphrase the story of ancestral voyage, as though he is the chosen stylus of memory, and all the while caressing a blue mango, a rare variety "so sweet that after you have eaten one you cannot taste sugar for at least three days". Only destiny can snatch it from him, and bring him back to this moment in the present, whose colour is not blue but the diluted gray of a wintry January morning, as the author of a sprawling, genre-enhancing first novel that has already been sold to 11 countries and is scheduled to become the publishing sensation of Such hyperbole cannot sway David Davidar, the novelist who also happens to be the publisher of Penguin Books India.