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Clear Light of Day (1980)

de Anita Desai

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6291927,575 (3.51)54
To the family living in the shabby, dusty house in Delhi, Tara's visit brings a sharp reminder of life outside tradition. For Bim, coping endlessly with their problems, there is a renewal of the old jealousies for, unlike her sister, she has failed to escape. Looking at both the cruelty and the beauty of family life and the harshness of India's modern history, Clear Light of Day brilliantly evokes the painful process of confronting and healing old wounds.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porsajith, GauravKhosla, libraryhead, ejmw, mediterraneobcn, Crazymamie, dehaansg, moongirl85, TCAPLIB
Bibliotecas HistóricasWalker Percy
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Mostrando 1-5 de 18 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Although this was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, I couldn’t quite see where this was going or the point of it all. I kept expecting things to happen or the narrative to take a coherent form or the characters to develop more and I encountered nothing like this. I came away from it feeling somehow unsatisfied.

That is partly illustrated by the fact that, as I write this post, I’m not entirely sure how to summarise what I’ve read. This is the story of siblings in an Indian family containing episodes both of their childhood but also views of that childhood from their perspectives as adults provoked by the return of one sister from overseas as she visits.

While the lengthy and helpful Wikipedia entry states that this is a post-partition novel, I’d disagree. While the bulk of the narrative takes place post-partition, the foundation for their memories is in fact set prior to the nation’s independence.

This is important and something that I feel isn’t fully explored in the novel. The impending crisis is briefly portrayed in a flashback to India of the late 1940s. Both partition and the assassination of Ghandi are seen through the eyes of the children and the impact it has on their relationships and psychologies.

It’s this that I think Desai could have made much, much more of. It was something that her daughter, Kiran Desai, used very successfully as a vehicle for her powerful Booker-winner The Inheritance of Loss. Head to that and skip this. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 27, 2020 |
A good metaphorical tale of a family of four siblings that revolves around Pakistani independence. Sometimes a little slow, but with excellent passages and deep characters. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
Ayjay describes this as "one of my very favorite novels"; "luminous", and "Masterpiece", so that seems like a decent recommendation.
  dmmjlllt | Jul 24, 2019 |
Desai eloquently describes a dysfunctional Hindu Indian family, and what becomes of the children as they grow up.

Raised solidly middle class, in their own home, their parents spend all of their free time at their club playing bridge. Their mother is diabetic and occasionally has bouts of illness, keeping her at home. The children are essentially ignored. When the youngest's disabilities begin to be obvious, they call for Aunt Mira to come assist, as the elderly nurse cannot do it all.

Mira brings fun, predicatability, and love to the children's lives. Each in his own way appreciates her: Bimla, the eldest, learns caregiving from her, and goes to college to be a teacher. She takes over her role as family carer--and much of the book is through Bim's eyes. Raja, the elder son, spends much time with the Muslim neighbors, learning Urdu and poetry. Aunt Mira permits this, though his own father is not supportive. Tara, the younger sister, loves Mira with all her heart, and as a newly married woman is sad but overwhelmed with her own life in Ceylon as Mira's illness takes her life. Baba, the younger disabled son, can only communicate with his carers, and Bim takes that role.

As much as the 4 children jostle for heir parents' attention and to meet their own dreams, this book is also about love, and how the siblings struggle to honor their love for each other and that for their own families and responsibilities. ( )
  Dreesie | Mar 1, 2019 |
This is my final book from the 1980 Booker shortlist and possibly the one that surprised me most. Its strengths are quiet ones - at heart it is a family story in which very little happens - indeed the Hindu family at its heart is part of the Old Delhi owning class, for whom work was not always a necessity. The book deals with siblings orphaned and parted at the time of the partition of India, and specifically the relationship between Bim, who has remained at home partly to look after a younger brother Baba who has learning difficulties, and Tara, who married a diplomat when very young and spends most of her life abroad.

In the first part of the story we meet Tara as she returns to her decaying childhood home with her husband, who would rather be with his own family in new Delhi. This section is slow moving but necessary to establish the situation, and the tensions within the divided family gradually appear. Bim is educated and works as a teacher, and is contrasted with the younger sister Tara, who was an apathetic dreamer as a child but has moved on to better things unlike her more ambitious sister. Much of the story concerns the elder brother Raja, who has moved away to Hyderabad and married the daughter of their Muslim landlord and former neighbour, creating resentment in Bim who is left looking after the house and what is left of the family. The middle two parts are set further back during their shared childhood, and the moving final section (which for me moved it into the five star bracket) brings them back to the present with a kind of incomplete resolution.

Music is a recurring theme - Baba spends much of his time listening to old records on a wind-up gramophone, the doctor who failed in his courtship of Bim is a violinist who plays western classical music with a mother who sings Tagore's Bengali songs, and a neighbour is an aspiring singer of Indian classical music. Poetry is another theme - Raja aspired to write Urdu poetry as a teenager and shared his interest in Eliot, Byron and Tennyson with Bim - their works are often quoted.

Desai's writing is often very powerful - she often returns to themes mentioned in passing, for example a cow that drowned by falling into a well, and she draws you into the story mesmerically.

A very enjoyable book. ( )
  bodachliath | Sep 14, 2018 |
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To the family living in the shabby, dusty house in Delhi, Tara's visit brings a sharp reminder of life outside tradition. For Bim, coping endlessly with their problems, there is a renewal of the old jealousies for, unlike her sister, she has failed to escape. Looking at both the cruelty and the beauty of family life and the harshness of India's modern history, Clear Light of Day brilliantly evokes the painful process of confronting and healing old wounds.

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