Tag-Archive for ◊ uneasy relationship ◊

Author:
• Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Abha Dawesar was born in New Delhi, India, in 1974. She obtained a degree in philosophy from Harvard University and started a career in finance which she had to forgo when her two novels, Miniplanner and Babyji became great successes.

Abha Dawesar received the Lambda Literary Award in 2005 and the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award in 2006. She was also awarded a Fiction Fellowship in 2000 by the New York foundation of the Arts. Abha Dawesar lives in New York.

Due to her young age, her bibliography is short, but acclaimed by critics.
She published Miniplanner in 2000.
Her second novel Babyji was published in 2005.
That Summer in Paris was published in 2006.
Family Values was published in 2009.

Abha Dawesar is a self taught video maker and a visual artist. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York City.

That Summer in Paris is the story of a successful, Nobel prize winner, seventy five-year-old Indian writer, Prem Rustum who discovers that his life is nearly over without him seeing the years passing. He realises that he has spent too much time writing novels. In spite of his old age he hasn’t given up on love and decides to rest his pen and enjoy the few years left for him to live, preferably with a charming female soul mate.

Searching on Internet under his name, he discovers unexpectedly messages from one of his admirers, Maya; an intellectual, ambitious, twenty five year old aspiring writer, who admits openly on the web her admiration and passion for his work. He decides to meet her. They felt captivated by each other’s charm straight away and on a whim Prem decides to follow Maya, from New York to Paris, where she has a writing fellowship. The unconventional, uneasy relationship between the two main characters begins.

Prem’s love for Maya will make him reminisce over his old incestuous love with his older sister Meher, to his sensual experience with the two sixteen-year old French girls and will confront him with his rekindled desires and his approaching mortality. The theme of life and death mentioned in the novel, is a subject which Dawesar is obsessed with, as she mentioned it in one of her interviews.

For the romance to take place the author couldn’t have chosen a better clichéd place than Paris, the most beautiful and romantic city in the world, which Dawesar is very found of and visits often. The very meticulous description of the people, the paintings, the city’s streets, restaurants and French gastronomy, the various attractions and art galleries, transports the readers into a different world of romantic fantasy, but also a meditation about ageing, passion, achievement, literature and art.

The detailed and explicit descriptions of the sex scenes are gratuitous, perverse and crude, it undermines an otherwise good story about lost love, relationships and the beauty of how art can influence love and love, art. Which promotes the immortality of real love and genuine art. In her endeavour to sex-up her story, Dawesar belittles the interesting and numerous discussions between Prem, his Parisian friend, Pascal Boutin, the famous novelist and Maya his muse.

Author:
• Tuesday, June 09th, 2009

Cristina Garcia was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958. After Fidel Castro came to power in the early sixties, she moved with her parents to New York and following an early Catholic education, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1979 at Barnard College, at Columbia University. She later entered the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and in 1981 obtained a master’s degree in International Relations.

In the early eighties, Garcia worked for several publications: the Boston Globe for a short time, then United Press International, The Knoxville Journal in Tennessee and The New York Times. She was a correspondent at Time magazine in New York city in 1983 and also worked in San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

In 1990 Cristina Garcia decided to devote her time to writing fiction in order to highlight the life of Cuban immigrants in the United States. In 1984 she travelled to Cuba to meet her relatives for the first time and five years later her trip provided her with the incentive to start writing her first book, Dreaming in Cuban, published in 1992, followed by The Agüero Sisters published in 1997 and Monkey Hunting in 2003.

Cristina Garcia has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and the recipient of a Whiting writer’s award. In 1990 Garcia married Scott Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Pilar born in 1992. Garcia now lives with her daughter in Santa Monica.

The novel of The Agüero Sisters is made up of several family stories (with multiple narrators) interlaced with each other in the past and the present. It’s the rich complex story of Constancia and Reina Agüero, the two very different sisters, who were separated for thirty years.

Reina is forty eight years old, tall, dark and beautiful, liberated and a skilled master electrician,who supported the revolution and therefore remained in Havana. While her sister is the fifty one year-old Constancia, the pale, petite and conservative wife and business woman who immigrated with her husband to the United States after the Cuban revolution and adopted her new country’s culture.

What they both have in common is the intriguing, haunting and mysterious death of their mother and father, who both died many years ago, but whose memory still lives vividly with them after leaving them to inherit half truths, secrets and lies.

The author describes the Cuban landscape in detail, but not much detail is provided about Cuba before and after Fidel Castro took power. The novel mainly relates the lives of Cuban-Americans and the mysteries and myths that they carry with them and the beautiful American dream. There is also the uneasy relationship between children and parents and the hard-to-resolve question of identity.

Cristina Garcia is interested in emotional inheritance “and how those get played out subjectively in different times and places.” She said the beauty of being a novelist is that you can explore your obsessions at length.

Despite the jumps back and forth in time, the prologue gives us the main theme of the novel.

Although Garcia has an elegant style of writing and a fine description of characters, her plot is incomplete. She never reveals why Ignacio kills Blanca and two years later commits suicide. Nor has the author explained the reasons for Blanca’s disappearance and returning to her husband and child, heavily pregnant by another man, who remains anonymous throughout the book. The characters of Constancia and Reina’s daughters are neither fully developed nor do they contribute much to the story.

Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable, colourful book to read.

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