A River Sutra

A River Sutra

4.0 3
by Gita Mehta
     
 

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With imaginative lushness and narrative elan, Mehta provides a novel that combines Indian storytelling with thoroughly modern perceptions into the nature of love--love both carnal and sublime, treacherous and redeeming. "Conveys a world that is spiritual, foreign, and entirely accessible."--Vanity Fair. Reading tour.


From the Trade Paperback edition.  See more details below

Overview

With imaginative lushness and narrative elan, Mehta provides a novel that combines Indian storytelling with thoroughly modern perceptions into the nature of love--love both carnal and sublime, treacherous and redeeming. "Conveys a world that is spiritual, foreign, and entirely accessible."--Vanity Fair. Reading tour.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This deft and delightful novel depicts the life and culture on the banks the Indian river Narmada. (July)
Library Journal
A sequence of delicate, tragic stories by the author of Raj (S. & S., 1989) evokes the profound presence of tradition and desire along the banks of the holy river Narmada. A retired bureaucrat, initially ignorant of the river's bright and dark powers, hears these stories as he encounters their protagonists: a privileged young executive bewitched by a mysterious lover; a neophyte Jain monk moving from opulence to poverty; and an intense ascetic who resurfaces in a surprising reincarnation. For all the horror and passion of the tales, the bureaucrat remains little moved until book's end. Readers too may be more intrigued and edified than moved. As in folktale, the stories' dynamics dominate their characters, who serve primarily to illustrate cultural and religious forces. For public libraries, particularly where an interest in things Indian is strong.-- Janet Ingraham, Wor thington P.L., Ohio
Donna Seaman
Gita Mehta's consummate novel reflects the depth and complexity of India's spirituality like a diamond reflects light. This is storytelling at its purest: potent and mesmerizing. The narrator has left his high-ranking government job and the bustling life of the city for the tranquility of the country. He manages a rest house along the banks of the sacred Narmada River, devoting quiet hours to contemplation of the river's might, mystery, and beauty. But this seemingly peaceful realm is actually electric with the passion and tragedy of human existence as pilgrims from all walks of life make their way to the holy river. As our innkeeper converses with these troubled travelers, he becomes as immersed in their startling stories as if he'd dived into the babbling river and was carried away by its current. Each person he meets, whether Hindu, Muslim, or Jain, reveals a different aspect of India's fervent soul and endless quest for enlightenment. A millionaire renounces his wealth and becomes a monk; an ascetic rescues a child from a whorehouse; and a homely woman finds beauty in music. Each bewitching tale is a rivulet pouring its truth into the long river of life. A quiet masterpiece.
Kirkus Reviews
A deceptively simple second novel from author-filmmaker Mehta (Raj, 1989) that—with gentle good humor—addresses an age-old big subject: the workings of the human heart. The narrator here, a widower and former bureaucrat, has taken a position at the Government rest house, situated on the banks of the famed Narmada River, to become a vanaprasthi—"someone who has retired to the forest to reflect." Though he's always led a life undisturbed by passion, he now finds himself increasingly in contact with those whose lives have been dramatically affected by their emotions. The Narmada, a sacred river believed to have been created by the god Shiva, and rich in legends that celebrate pre- Aryan India—when the world was supposedly ruled by great serpents who lived in splendid underground kingdoms—attracts a variety of visitors. In self-contained chapters, the narrator recounts stories he's been told by the local mullah, or relates his own experiences as he walks through the forests, visits the local market, and takes care of the guests. He meets, for instance, a Jain priest who has renounced his great wealth, as well as his wife and children, because he realized "that a man who cannot suffer is not alive"; the mullah tells him about a young Sufi singer whose throat was cut by a rich man who could not bear the beauty of the boy's voice; a troubled guest describes the profound consequences of his shameful treatment of a beloved peasant woman; and a woman musician, devastated by a failed love affair and feeling "dead inside," hopes the river will give her back her music. Each story offers an insight, a process that culminates in the story of a local ascetic who left toseek enlightenment but returns years later as a famous professor because, he tells the narrator, only when a soul becomes a man "can it reenter the world." Subtle profundity in a beautifully evoked setting—and powerfully understated.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307780997
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/23/2011
Series:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
483,967
File size:
2 MB

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