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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Anyone paying attention to book publishing in the last decade has witnessed a virtual explosion in the number of "Indian novels" coming to the American marketplace, not all of them praiseworthy. At the Discover program, we understand this better than most, because we read nearly all of them and highlight only the truly exceptional. The Last Song of Dusk meets this criterion -- head-on.
As Anuradha, an extremely attractive and talented singer, prepares to leave her home for an arranged marriage, her mother speaks a few parting words: "In this life, my darling, there is no mercy." Shangvi's spectacular, cinematically precise debut opens with this scene, an ominous beginning which sets the stage for a heartbreaking love story. Anuradha's future husband is introduced several pages later, as he reflects on the words of his dying mother: "Can you save me, Vardhmaan, please?" These two themes -- mercy and salvation -- form the axis upon which Shanghvi's dramatic novel turns.
Anuradha "ached to tell [Vardhmaan] that no one could save anyone…everyone had to bear their own cross." And bear it they do, as their blissful union is disrupted by an unspeakable tragedy, the aftermath of which brings upon them both a paralyzing fear that eats away at their joy until it is consumed by the whims of fate, the designs of a hateful stepmother, and a menacing house. (Holiday 2004 Selection)