The Age of Shiva: A Novel

( 11 )

Overview

"A stunning novel, proof that Manil Suri is a major storyteller of heart and intelligence." —Amy TanThe Age of Shiva is at once a powerful story of a country in turmoil and an "unflinchingly honest" portrait of maternal love—"intricately interwoven with the ancient rites and myths" (Booklist) crucial to India's history. Meera, the narrator, is seventeen years old when she catches her first glimpse of Dev, performing a song so infused with passion that it arouses in her the first flush of erotic longing. She wonders if she can steal him away from

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The Age of Shiva: A Novel

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Overview

"A stunning novel, proof that Manil Suri is a major storyteller of heart and intelligence." —Amy TanThe Age of Shiva is at once a powerful story of a country in turmoil and an "unflinchingly honest" portrait of maternal love—"intricately interwoven with the ancient rites and myths" (Booklist) crucial to India's history. Meera, the narrator, is seventeen years old when she catches her first glimpse of Dev, performing a song so infused with passion that it arouses in her the first flush of erotic longing. She wonders if she can steal him away from Roopa, her older, more beautiful sister, who has brought her along to see him. It is only when her son is born that Meera begins to imagine a life of fulfillment. She engulfs him with a love so deep, so overpowering, that she must fear its consequences. Meera's unforgettable story, embodying Shiva as a symbol of religious upheaval, places The Age of Shiva among the most compelling novels to emerge from contemporary India. Reading group guide included.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“Sweepingly ambitious, captivating. ... Affirms [Suri's] position as a writer worth serious attention.”— Caryn James
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Suri once again triumphs.”— Charles Gershman
O Magazine
“As in his first novel, Suri uses tales of Hindu gods and goddesses to illuminate mortal hearts. A rich and multilayered read.”
The New Yorker
“A sensuous, nuanced portrait of motherhood.”
Kiran Desai
“Drawn by this compelling narrative, I read this marvelous book in one sitting.”
Caryn James - New York Times Book Review
“Sweepingly ambitious, captivating. ... Affirms [Suri's] position as a writer worth serious attention.”
Charles Gershman - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Suri once again triumphs.”
Caryn James
We all live in the shadow of history, and the play of its lights and shades over individual lives is the stuff of historical fiction. In his sweepingly ambitious, captivating second novel, The Age of Shiva, Manil Suri creates a woman who is never an actor in the great events of India's post-independence decades but cannot escape their power to shape her…The novel would have been richer if Suri had infused it more deeply with the world-shaping changes that surround his heroine. He is not writing that kind of politicized fiction, though, and doesn't need to. In Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie has already created what may be the definitive—and is certainly the most richly imagined—novel of the Indian partition. Suri's contribution is to have invented a woman so vivid and individual that she reminds us, in her meandering connection to history, that no two people ever respond to its pull in the same way.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The second novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) follows Meera Sawhney from her unhappy 1950s marriage to aspiring singer Dev Arora through to her own son's coming-of-age. After an impulsive act forces Meera's marriage at 17, her complex, controlling father decries her tying herself (and, by extension, her family) to the provincial, lower-class Aroras. Meera soon finds herself pulled in different directions by her in-laws' religious orthodoxy, her father's progressivism (which doesn't run deep), her husband's self-pitying alcoholism and her own resentment. She finds salvation in the birth of a son, Ashvin; mother love, which Suri describes in intensely physical terms, gives her life passion and purpose, and overwhelms her adult relationships. But as India modernizes, Meera senses that Ashvin, and she herself, must live their own lives. Suri renders Meera's perspective marvelously, especially in small particulars (such as Meera's deliberations around the cutting of Ashvin's hair) and in the perils and conflicts Meera faces in her relationships with men. He also takes a close look at Hindu practices and charts the rise of religious nationalism in the years following Gandhi's death. Suri's vivid portrait of a woman in post-independence India engages timeless themes of self-determination. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This second novel in a proposed trilogy is not really a sequel to Suri's first, the 2002 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award-winning The Death of Vishnu, although it, too, is set in a Bombay apartment building. Obsessive love is the theme, and Suri once again displays a fine touch for details. Meera, living in 1960s Bombay, is a headstrong 17-year-old girl whose impulsiveness leads her into a troubled marriage with Dev, a charming singer. But Dev never quite makes it in the Bombay music business and soon starts drinking heavily. In conflict not only with her husband but also with her autocratic father, Meera channels all her love toward her young son, Ashvin. As the boy grows up, Meera's maternal devotion turns suffocating and claustrophobic. Non-Indian readers will be able to relate to the family dynamics here, but a passing knowledge of Indian customs and recent history, especially during Indira Gandhi's four-term rule as prime minister (1966-77; 1980-84), would be helpful. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/1/07.]
—Leslie Patterson

School Library Journal

The second novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) follows Meera Sawhney from her unhappy 1950s marriage to aspiring singer Dev Arora through to her own son's coming-of-age. After an impulsive act forces Meera's marriage at 17, her complex, controlling father decries her tying herself (and, by extension, her family) to the provincial, lower-class Aroras. Meera soon finds herself pulled in different directions by her in-laws' religious orthodoxy, her father's progressivism (which doesn't run deep), her husband's self-pitying alcoholism and her own resentment. She finds salvation in the birth of a son, Ashvin; mother love, which Suri describes in intensely physical terms, gives her life passion and purpose, and overwhelms her adult relationships. But as India modernizes, Meera senses that Ashvin, and she herself, must live their own lives. Suri renders Meera's perspective marvelously, especially in small particulars (such as Meera's deliberations around the cutting of Ashvin's hair) and in the perils and conflicts Meera faces in her relationships with men. He also takes a close look at Hindu practices and charts the rise of religious nationalism in the years following Gandhi's death. Suri's vivid portrait of a woman in post-independence India engages timeless themes of self-determination. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Barnes & Noble Review
Perhaps one day I will tell you about the yearning from which you were born. You will deliver me, will you not, from this life I find myself in? This is the question Meera poses to her infant son, Ashvin, the only male who promises redemption from the choices she's made. As in his debut, The Death of Vishnu, Manil Suri's second novel places Hindu mythology, familial strife, and contemporary political and religious conflicts in deft and revealing juxtapositions. Meera's urgent soliloquy -- which begins from her misguided desire to marry Dev, a singer she believed would transform her ordinary existence into a Bollywood romance -- is a lyrically sensual reflection, peppered with pragmatic justifications, agonized what-ifs, and haunting regret. As her son grows to manhood, Meera retreats further into the corridors of her mind to soothe the rebellious fury caused by her manipulative father and restore the energy sapped by her needy, alcoholic husband and his lecherous brother. Like Meera, readers must navigate the complexity of this family's emotional terrain, often as unsettled as that of the newly independent India. But Suri's pitch-perfect language drives a narrative that ultimately reveals while a mother's motives might not be entirely pure, they are utterly human -- a fact that is at once exhilarating and all too humbling. --Lydia Dishman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393333633
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/12/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 796,047
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Manil Suri

Manil Suri is the best-selling author of The Death of Vishnu, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and The Age of Shiva. A native of Mumbai, he is a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Unsubtle and tedious

    This book is a patchwork of Indian stereotypes, but without subtlety. The book is a self-conscious effort to become the definitive post-colonial novel with perhaps an eye to a movie script. I thought it was tedious. Pity, because Suri is, otherwise, a good writer. Try Amitav Ghosh if you want the real deal.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    The Age of Sihva

    A wonderfully complex story of an independent woman in post Independence period in India, her good choices and her bad choices, and her devotion to her son. Beautifully interwoven characters and stories. Manil Suri is a writer i would always trust to tell a great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    OK

    Wonderful writing, but I guess I was left dissatisfied with the ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2008

    Excellent Read

    Well written and captivating!

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    Posted November 12, 2010

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    Posted July 31, 2011

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    Posted March 9, 2009

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    Posted May 18, 2012

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    Posted July 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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