Baumgartner's Bombay

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Overview

A "beautifully written, richly textured, and haunting story" (Chaim Potok), BAUMGARTNER'S BOMBAY is Anita Desai's classic novel of the Holocaust era, a story of profound emotional wounds of war and its exiles. The novel follows Hugo Baumgartner as he flees Nazi Germany—and his Jewish heritage—for India, only to be imprisoned as a hostile alien and then released to Bombay at war's end. In this tale of a man who, "like a figure in a Greek tragedy . . . seems to elude his destiny" (NEW LEADER), Desai's "capacious ...

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Overview

A "beautifully written, richly textured, and haunting story" (Chaim Potok), BAUMGARTNER'S BOMBAY is Anita Desai's classic novel of the Holocaust era, a story of profound emotional wounds of war and its exiles. The novel follows Hugo Baumgartner as he flees Nazi Germany—and his Jewish heritage—for India, only to be imprisoned as a hostile alien and then released to Bombay at war's end. In this tale of a man who, "like a figure in a Greek tragedy . . . seems to elude his destiny" (NEW LEADER), Desai's "capacious intelligence, her unsentimental compassion" (NEW REPUBLIC) reach their full height.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Beautifully written, richly textured . . . [a] haunting story."—Chaim Potok

"A triumph." New Republic

Paul West
Ms. Desai is a superb observer of the human race, achieving coloratura runs where most writers would have managed only a gasp or a gape. Like all serious novelists she puts her best energy into fingering the texture of someone's life, getting a few solid answers to the incessant question ''What is it like to be them?'' She reminds us of how tractable real-life people are, at least when compared with characters in fiction....This is a daring, colorful novel almost impossible to absorb in one reading, and rightly so because it's about imperfect knowledge. -- New York Times
Richard Bernstein
As always, Ms. Desai writes with intelligence and power. She has a remarkable eye for substance, the things that give life its texture....The book is wise and observant yet overwrought, edging into grandiloquence and improbability, the emotional drama artificially thickened by images and metaphors that are inflated and not especially fresh. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Desai's exquisite, exotic 10th novel follows well-to-do European newlyweds who, in 1975, embark on a spiritual search in India. The husband, an Italian named Matteo, joins an ashram and becomes a fervent devotee of an aged, solitary guru known as ``the Mother.'' But to his skeptical German wife, Sophie, the Mother is not a fount of Eastern wisdom but a ``monster spider'' who catches ``silly flies'' like the deluded Matteo. After giving birth to a son and a daughter, both of whom she raises in the ashram, Sophie flees with her children to her in-laws' Italian villa. Vowing to unmask the Mother's true identity, she then sets off to Alexandria. There, through flashbacks, we meet Laila, a free-spirited teenager, half-Egyptian, half-French, who moves to Paris, rebels against her bourgeois aunt and joins an Indian dance troupe. Falling in love with Krishna, the troupe's charismatic, aloof leader, Laila tours Venice and 1920s New York before moving with him to India, where she later renounces dance for enlightenment and transforms herself into the Mother. The story closes with excerpts from Laila's India diary and with Sophie's confrontation with the wizened, aged Krishna, whom she tracks down in Bombay. Desai (Baumgartner's Bombay) magically evokes the collision and melding of cultures and ideas as she maps the hazards and rewards of spiritual quest. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618056804
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 797,249
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

ANITA DESAI is the author of Fasting , Feasting , Baumgartner’s Bombay , Clear Light of Day , and Diamond Dust , among other works. Three of her books have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Desai was born and educated in India and now lives in the New York City area.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

    The problem with this book, and other books by Anita Desai, is t

    The problem with this book, and other books by Anita Desai, is that she cannot create characters who belong to any certain place or period.  The characters in this book grow old, drink too much are poor and die, but we learn little about what that has to to do with European Jews escaping the horrors of the Nazi's.  They could be in any poor country and have the same problems and not be any more or less interesting.   There did not seem to be anything in the book that was specific to the problems they would encounter in Indian.  Anita Desai can write very well but lacks imagination and the ability create characters worth reading about.   

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2005

    Couldn't Even Finish..

    I started reading this book once before and after the first 20 pages, I was so bored with it. I decided three weeks later, to try it again. The same thing happened. If you want a book that will put you to sleep after a page, read this book.

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