Sunday, August 8, 2010

Memory games

Poet and dancer Tishani Doshi on her debut novel The Pleasure Seekers

In The Pleasure Seekers (Penguin India, Rs 499), poet and dancer Tishani Doshi’s debut novel, Sian Jones, a cream-skinned girl with a strict Calvinist upbringing from Nercwys, Wales, comes to India, with the intention of marrying Babo Patel, a Gujarati boy with “jhill mill teeth” based in Madras. They had met in London, where Babo had gone as a student; their covenant is to spend the first two years of their marriage in India, but at the end of it Sian decides to stay back. “We know about people coming to India for spirituality but I had never read anything about a westerner coming here looking for love,” says Doshi, lissome and graceful, sitting in the spare confines of the publisher’s office, occasionally looking out as the rain clouds darken that patch of sky visible through the partial blinds.

Babo and Sian’ s story is based on Doshi’s parents, the “original pleasure seekers” as she describes them in the dedication to the novel. “I did not grow up with lots of stories so I had to make them up on my own. It takes off from their lives but a lot of it is fiction,” says Doshi, 35. A memoir is risky, she says, being so inconveniently close, so the book turned out to be an “alternative history”. The probing was gentle, the narrative relying more on the “beauty present in wisps of memory”.

Full report here Indian Express

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