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Manju Novel Review Essay

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Custody, By Manju Kapur

Custody, By Manju Kapur

A marriage preceded or fractured by a heady, socially unacceptable romance has emerged time and again in Manju Kapur's fiction. It re-appears in her latest novel, Custody: here, the subject is matrimony at its most intolerable followed by the emotional fall-out of a break-up on one wealthy extended Delhi family.

We are introduced to the central couple just as their troubles begin. Their relationship comes to a juddering end after Shagun, the beautiful wife of Raman (as dull as she is pretty), falls for his far more charismatic boss and hot-shot sales executive, Ashok Khanna. The affair sparks the book's furious momentum as it follows them through separation, divorce, re-marriage (Shagun to Ashok; Raman to the infertile Ishita) and a crescendo of a custody battle in all its legal chicanery and psychological ugliness.

The battle could have made for exhausting, car-crash drama had it not been for Kapur's carefully balanced tone. The pain and loneliness of all of the characters, from the infertile Ishita's rejection by her first husband to Shagun's frustrations within her tepid marriage and Raman's devastation after she leaves, is set against Kapur's gentle satire. The tragedy of divorce and custody is tempered, though never undercut, by her keenly-perceived soap opera of bourgeois Indian society of the 1990s. Shagun's fling has a touch of French farce; Raman is the classic cuckold, intent on a life of mediocrity. The older generation whose adult children are undergoing divorce relate their situation to Princess Diana's wrecked marriage; Ashok's sales slogans spill over from his workplace to be applied (ludicrously) to life.

This mild parody saves the story from humourless legal drama. Yet the lightness does not take away from the heartbreak. The two children, Arjun and Roohi, become the pawns through which their parents unleash their fury on each other. Kapur gives us effective glimmers of insight into their young, confused minds.

The battle lines are drawn early and both parties fight to its end. The cycle of rage between Shagun and Raman not only fuels itself but is complicated by the new stepmothers and fathers acquired through second marriages. Kapur is adept at dealing with this complicated family reconfiguration, and the insecurity it brings to the step-parents as well as children. In Ishita's plight, we see the second wife's desperate struggle to replace the biological mother, while Ashok presents a more ambiguous kind of care.

Kapur addresses the gendered nature of custody battles in India – men often refuse to grant divorce while women usually have greater claim to the children – but she refuses to generalise or moralise. The legal process is rotten in different ways for both parties. Neither does she spend too long on whether Shagun's infidelity scandalises society, but focuses on how it affects her characters. The concept of family shame and social propriety is firmly in the background.

Perhaps this lack of social judgment stems from the period: an India of the 1990s which is entering the world economy on a more ambitious footing, and in which the idea of family duty has been overridden by individualism. As Shagun says in her critique of the old world, "It was part of the Indian disease. Ashok was always going on about stultifying tradition. The great Indian family, which rested on the sacrifices of its women."

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Manju novel review essay


karintō manjū ( かりんとう饅頭 ? )

Manjū ( 饅頭 ? ) is a popular traditional Japanese confection. There are many varieties of manjū, but most have an outside made from flour. rice powder and buckwheat and a filling of an (red bean paste ), made from boiled azuki beans and sugar. They are boiled together again and kneaded. There are several varieties of bean paste used including koshian. tsubuan. and tsubushian .

Contents History

Manjū was derived from a type of mochi (蒸餅), or pounded rice cake, that has existed in China for a long time. [ when? ] It was originally called Mantou in Chinese. but became known as manjū when it came to Japan. In 1341, a Japanese envoy that came back from China brought back manjū with him and started to sell it as Nara-manjū. It is said that this was the origin of Japanese manjū. Since then, it has been eaten for nearly 700 years by Japanese people. Now it can be found in many Japanese sweet shops. Its low price is a reason that it is famous among the Japanese.


There are myriad varieties of manjū. some more common than others.

  • Matcha (green tea) manjū is one of the most common. In this case, the outside of the manjū has a green tea flavor and is colored green.
  • Mizu (water) manjū is traditionally eaten in the summertime and contains a flavored bean filling. The exterior of the mizu manjū is made with kuzu starch. which gives the dough a translucent, jelly-like appearance. [ 1 ]
  • There are also manjū that have different flavored fillings, such as orange-flavored cream.
  • As is the case with many Japanese foods, in some parts of Japan one can find manjū unique to that region, such as the maple leaf-shaped momiji manjū in Hiroshima and Miyajima.
    • The regional variety of the Saitama prefecture is called Jumangoku Manju -- more information can be found here:
See also
  • Nikuman
  • Mantou (饅頭, Chinese plain steamed bun), etymologically the origin of the word, although in modern Chinese the term for filled buns is baozi .
  1. ^ Schilling, Christine (2007). "Translator's Notes." in Kirishima, Takeru (2002). Kanna Volume 2. California: Go! Comi (Go! Media Entertainment, LLC). ISBN-13: 978-1-933617-56-5

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010 .

Look at other dictionaries:

Manjū — frito, age manjū (揚げ饅頭, age manjū … Wikipedia Español

Manju — Bhargavi is a Sanskrit word with following associated meanings pleasant, sweet, snow, beautiful, Lord Shiva s name, clouds, morning dew and is predominantly an Indian male/female/given name. Manjubashini, means a language of clouds.That is Rain.… … Wikipedia

Manju — bezeichnet: ein Volk Chinas, siehe Mandschu Manjū, japanisches Essen N. S. Manju (* 1987), indischer Fußballspieler Qing Dynastie, auch Manju Dynastie Diese Seite ist eine … Deutsch Wikipedia

Manjū — Pour les articles homonymes, voir manju. Manjū Des manjū Lieu d origine … Wikipédia en Français

Manjū — karintō manjū Manjū (饅頭) ist eine beliebte traditionelle japanische Süßigkeit. Sie werden wie die bekannten Dampfnudeln zubereitet. Geschichte Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts soll die Zubereitungsart von China nach Japan gekommen sein, wo sie… … Deutsch Wikipedia

Manju — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. L ère Manju est une période de l histoire du Japon, de 1024 à 1028. Un manjū est une pâtisserie japonaise. Catégorie. Homonymie … Wikipédia en Français

Manju — indischer Name, Bedeutung: die Süße, Tautropfen … Deutsch namen

Manju Kapur — (born Amritsar, India) is an Indian novelist. Her first novel, Difficult Daughters, won the 1999 Commonwealth Writers Prize, best first book, Europe and South Asia. She is married; they have three children and three grandchildren, and live in New … Wikipedia

Manju Wanniarachchi — Personal information Full name Manju Dinesh Kumara Wanniarachchi Nationality  Sri Lanka Born 2 December 1979 … Wikipedia

Review: Home by Manju Kapur

The sari-seller's daughter

by Manju Kapur
352pp, Faber, £10.99

In her third novel, Manju Kapur takes us through a brisk and strangely captivating account of three generations. Banwari Lal comes to India after partition and, with the help of his wife's jewellery, carves out a sari business in Karol Bagh, Delhi. Success comes slowly, and in the early years he is forced to marry his daughter, Sunita, to a man of dubious credentials. Even as the family gets richer, Sunita is abused and then, perhaps, murdered by her husband - leaving behind a son, Vicky, to be brought up by the Banwari Lals.

Vicky becomes a bone of contention. Banwari Lal, his grandfather, feels guilty about what happened to Sunita and hence responsible for him, but his sons and their growing families have less reason to make space for Vicky. Of the two sons, Yashpal falls in love with the beautiful Sona and employs astute emotional blackmail to get his parents to accept her. The other son, Pyare Lal, has a proper arranged marriage, and all the sons, daughters-in-law and, in due course, grandchildren pull their varying weights in the cramped family house and the family sari shop.

But the times are changing and, in the 1980s, the family is rife with tensions. With the death of the benevolent Banwari Lal, the shop is modernised and the family house changed into self-contained flats. The joint family and even the business are fragmenting; the price of both cohesion and fragmentation being paid in different ways by different characters. Of these, Nisha, Yashpal and Sona's beautiful daughter, bears the brunt of the tensions that are tearing at the family, making home a site of manipulation, repression, even sexual abuse.

Kapur's previous novels have been good at delineating the ways in which women connect to and resist other women. That is her strength in Home, too. However, she appears to have extended her art in two ways. Her sketches of the male characters are more convincing than in her earlier novels, and she has some memorable descriptions of spaces outside the immediately domestic, such as canteens and the Banwari Lal shop. "All day the Banwari Lal men nibbled something. Mid-morning snack, evening snack, feeling stressed snack, visitor snack. They worked long hours, six days a week. Their pleasures lay in discussing what to eat, in anticipation as the order was sent out, in the stimulation of the olfactory senses as the packets unfolded, in the camaraderie of sharing. They unwound over fresh, crisp kachoris with imli chutney. "

Home belongs to what must now be counted as a subgenre of Indian writing in English: domestic fiction, stories of weddings and deaths, arranged marriages and love affairs, cooking and bickering in a joint or an extended family in south Asia or, with signal differences, among south Asian immigrants in the west. This can range from the magnificent breadth of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy to the narrowly pulp dimensions of Shobha Dé's novels. It can be put to serious literary use, as in some novels by Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande or Bapsi Sidhwa. It can also become a little too dependent on certain clichés. Home, however, carries the reader along with its tender humour, its sparing but effective use of Delhi middle-class English and its subtle retelling of the clichés of north Indian family life. I read it with increasing pleasure.

· Tabish Khair's latest novel is The Bus Stopped (Picador). To order Home for £9.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875.

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Individual - Society - Novels of Manju Kapur, Lecturer Miranda College, Delhi

Novels By Manju Kapur - Writer Style Discussion Individual and Society in the Novels Of Manju Kapur

Manju Kapur has joined the growing number of women writers from India, like Shashi Despande, Arundhati Roy, Githa Hariharan, Shoba De On whom the image of the suffering but stoic women eventually breaking traditional boundaries has had, a significant impact.

They invigorated the English language to suit representations and narration of what they felt about their women and their lives in post modern India. In a culture where individualism and prated have often remained alien ideas and marital bless and the women's role at home is a central focus. These modern-day women authors are now expressing themselves freely and boldly and on a variety of themes without adopting feminist postures. Manju Kapur's novels acquire a significant new meaning when read in the point of view of crisscross dogmas of cultural critical thinking. Manju Kapur's novels furnish examples of a whole range of attitudes towards the importation of tradition. However, Mrs. Kapur seems aware of the fact that the women of India have indeed achieved their success in sixty years of Independence, but if there is to be a true female independence, too much remains to be done. The conflict for autonomy and separate identity remains and unfinished combat.

Women under the patriarchal pressure and control were subjected to much more brunt's and social ostracism. They were discriminated and were biased in lien of their sex. The life women Lived and struggled under the oppressive mechanism of a closed society were reflected in the novels of Manju Kapur. Taking into account the complexity of life, different histories, cultures and different structures of values, the women's question, despite basic solidarity needs to be tackled in relation to the socio-cultural situation. The impact of patriarchy on the Indian Society varies from the one in the west. Manju Kapur has her own concerns, priorities as well as their own ways of dealing with the predicament of their women protagonists. My purpose is to study individual and society in the novels of Manju Kapur. I have taken three novels of Manju Kapur entitled "Difficult Daughters Married Woman and Home" for this purpose.

JustificationManju Kapur's female protagonists are mostly educated, aspiring individual caged with in the confines of a conservative society. Their education leads them to independent thinking for which their family and society become intolerant of them. They struggle between tradition and modernity. It is their individual struggle with family and society through which they plunged into a dedicated effort to carve an identity for themselves as qualified women with faultless backgrounds. The novelist has portrayed her protagonists as a woman caught in the conflict between the passions of the flesh and a yearning to be a part of the political and intellectual movements of the day.

Manju Kapur Life & Works Manju Kapur teaches English literature at Miranda House College, Delhi University. Her first novel 'Difficult Daughters' received huge international acclaim. This novel was published in 1998. Her second novel 'A Married Women' was published in 2002. Her third novel 'Home' was published in 2006. 'Difficult Daughters' was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best first book (Eurasia) and was a number one best seller in India. She is married to Gun Nidhi Dalmia and lives in New Delhi.

The portrayal of woman in Indian English fiction as the silent suffer and up holder of the tradition and traditional values of family and society has undergone a tremendous change and is no longer presented as a passive character. Kamala Markandaya, Nayantara Sehgal, Anita Desai, Shashi Despande and many women as an individual rebelling against the traditional role, breaking the silence of suffering trying to move out of the caged existence and asserting the individual self. This women is trying to be herself and yet does not wish to break up the family ties. Since Gandhiji helped the women to cross the threshold of family life and move out into the outer world of freedom struggle and social reform, the woman is presented with varied opportunities not only today but also yesterday during freedom movement. Yet writing in 1998, Manju Kapur, in her novels presents women who try to establish their own identity. The women of India have indeed achieved their success in half a century of Independence, but if there is to be a true female, independence, much remains to be done. The fight for autonomy remains an unfinished combat.

I In her quest of identify, Virmati the central character of the novel, rebels against tradition. She is impelled by the inner need to feel loved as an individual rather than as a responsible daughter. The title of the novel 'Difficult Daughters' is an indication to the message that a woman, who tries in search of an identity, is branded as a difficult daughter by the family and the society as well. 'Difficult Daughters' is the story of a young woman, named virmati born in Amritsar into an austere and high mined household. The story tells how she is torn between family duty, the desire for education and elicit love. This is a story of sorrow, love and compromise. The major portion deals with Virmati's love affairs with professor and rest part describes fighting struggle for freedom.

Virmati is the elderest daughter of Kasturi and Suraj Prakash. Kasturi has eleven children. One after another she gives birth to children and thus the whole burden of household work increases over Virmati, being the elderest daughter. Due to her busy routine she does not do well in her studies and fails. She falls in love with a professor, a man who is already married. He sublets a portion of Virmati's house. Thus professor develops on intimate relationship with Virmati and decides an appropriate place for regular meeting. Here Virmati's parents decides to marray her to an engineer Inderjeet but due to the death in his family marriage is postponed for two years. During this period Virmati passes her FA exam and denies for marriage. Professor insists Virmati on being firm. Now Virmati becomes mentally disturb and goes to Tarashika and drowns herself. She is escaped by the servants of her grand father Lala Divan Chand and returns to her house at Lepel Griffin Road. Everybody inquires the reason and finally she declares that the does not like the boy and wants to study further. So marriage is settled with Indumati, the second daughter.

Now Kasturi has to go with Virmati to Lahore for getting her admit in RBSL college and principal assures Kasturi that there will be no problem and she has her eye fixed firmly on each one. Sakuntala who has been a source of inspiration for Virmati, visites her regularly. Professor's course of meeting to Viru has yet not stopped and during this period she becomes pregnant. She becomes restless and with the help of her room mate Swarnlata she gets abortion.

After completing her B.T. she returns to Amritsar and is offered the principal ship of a college, she joins it but in Sultanpur too Harish visits her and there meetings are observed by Lalaji. She is dismissed so she decides to go to Nariniketan but on the way she meets Harish's close friend Poet who is already aware of their intimate relationship. So he does not let her go and calls Harish. He performs all the rituals of marriage. Professor with Virmati returns home. During her conjugal life Virmati feels that it would have been better if she had not been married with Harish. After sometime she gives birth to a daughter Ida. And at the beginning of the novel this girl Ida ponders over her mother's life.

Virmati has to fight against the power of the mother as well as the oppressive forces of patriarchy symbolized by the mother figure. The rebel in Virmati might have actually exchange one kind of slavery for another. But towards the end she becomes free, free even from the oppressive love of her husband. Once she succeed in doing that, she gets her husband all by herself, her child the reconciliation with her family. In the patriarchal Indian Society marriage is a means of deliverance from being socially condemned and it relieves a woman from the sense of insecurity and uncertainty. To the older generation marriage is no reason to rebel, it was accepted as a part of life's pleasure and was a phase of initiating certain Dharmas associated with social and religious institutions. Off course love was not the prerequisite or a desired basis for marriage. If Virmati's mother, Kasturi and Ganga (Prof. Harish Chandra's first wife) seeks pleasure in domestic up doings. Virmate struggles between the physical and moral, the head and the heart. Finally she gives way to her heart and body.

In her novel 'A Married Woman' Manju Kapur has taken writing as a protest, a way of mapping from the point of a woman's experience. Kanpur negotiates different issues emerging out of a socio - political upheaval in her country. In a realistic way, she has described the Indian male perception of women as a holy cow even though women are not very interested in history and those in power trying to twist and turn historical facts to serve their own purposes.

Ms. Manju Kapur's second novel 'A Married Woman' is the story of Astha an educated, upper middle class, working Delhi woman. As a girl, she was brought up with large supplements of fear. She was her parents only child. Her education, her character, her health, her marriage these were her parent's burdens. But like a common school going girl she often imagines of romantic and handsome Young man holding her in his strong manly embrace. In her adolescence she falls in love with a boy of her age. Day and night the though of him kept her insides churning. She was unable to eat, sleep or study. In the main time she is emotionally engage with Rhan and they enjoy physical relationship. This relationship is finished within a few days as Rohan moves to Oxford for further studies and her marriage is settled with Hemant who belongs to a bureaucrat family. They live in Vasant Vihar, a posh colony in New Delhi. They start their married life and soon Astha is fed up with it. Astha starts teaching in a public school after much resistance from her husband and her parents. During her staying in this school she participates in a workshop on communalism which is being led by an intellectual artiste Aijaz Akhtar Kha, the founder of 'The Street Theater Group'. Aijaz teaches history and during the holidays he performs plays in school, slums, factories, streets small town and villages to create empathy and to generate social awareness. Although Astha and been a mother of a son and a daughter by this time. She is festinated by the multifaceted personality of Aijaz. But ferocious soon this relationship is over as the workshop finishes. After a few days Astha reads the news of Aijaz's murder. Babri Masjid is demolished in Ayodhya and there is a lot of turmoil throughout the country. To establish religious harmony and social integration processions are organized by 'The Street Theatre Group'. In one of such processions Astha meets Pipeelika and she comes to know that she is the widow of Aijaz. She feels great empathy to Pipeelika and a powerful physical relationship is establish between them. This relationship is a challenge for her husband and family. They both live together and deep emotional attachment develops between them. Astha is on the verge of loosing her conventional marriage. Pipeelika leaves India to study abroad and Astha returns back to her family.

'A Married Woman' is beautifully, honest and seductive story of love and deep attachment, set at a time of political and religious turmoil..

'Home' is the third novel, by Manju Kapok. This is fast moving story which makes an ordinary middle class family's life in Delhi. The main character or the patriarch of a cloth business, Banwarilal lives in New Delhi neighborhood of Karol Bagh. Banwarilal believes in the old ways and is the firm believer of that men work out of the home, woman within. Men carry forward the family line, women enable their mission. His two sons unquestioningly follow their father but their wives do not. Both brothers carry their lives as well as business according to the wishes of their father. As the time passes Banwarilal dies and the whole burden of the family comes to Yashpal, being the elder one. He has one sister who becomes widow in her early life. She has a child named Vicky. They also join them in their house in Karol Bagh. At the beginning of the story Sona and Rupa both sisters are childless. They could not conceive for a long time. Sona keeps but it is of no use. Sona belongs to a rich family in comparison of her sister Rupa. Rupa's husband is an educated man. They passes their lives happily. After a long time Sona gives birth to Nisha and then to Virat. Nisha is physically tortured by Vicky, her cousin. She feels mentally disturb so she is sent the Rupa's home for a change. Here she gets education well. After some time she returns to her home where no one pays much attention towards her studies and she gets compartment in two subjects. She is guided by Premnath. She passes in it and enters in college for getting higher education. She meets a boy and decides to marry him ignoring his caste and creed.

Thus the novel depicts how family norms are is ignored by the new generation. Manju Kapur's novels present the changing image of women moving away from traditional portrayals of enduring, self sacrificing women towards self assured assertive and ambitious women making society aware of their demands and in this way providing a medium for self expression in the works of Manju Kapur.

It will be interesting to note man woman relationship in the three novels of Manju Kapur. As an element of feminism especially in the realm of biological, sexual, cultural and racial aspects will also be probed in the three novels. c

Chapter Division

Chapter 1. Individual and Political Arena
Chapter 2. Individual and Social Space
Chapter 3. Individual Dynamic of Family
Chapter 4. Use of Language
Chapter 5. Conclusion

c Biblography

(A) Primary Sources :
1. Kapur Manju. 'Difficult Daughters' New Delhi. Penguin, 1998.
2. Kapur Manju. 'A Married Women' New Delhi. India Ink, 2002.
3. Kapur Manju. 'Home' New Delhi. Random House, 2006.

(B) Seconday Sources :
1. Beauvaur, Simonde, "The Second Sex" Tran H.M. Parshley Harmondsworth 1971-London Pan Books 1988.Carbyn Heiburn. Marriage and Contemporary Fiction, Critical Inquiry, 5 No. 2 (Winter 1978).
2. Grimke, Sarah Letters on the Equality of the sexes and the condition of women New York, Burt Franklin 1970.
3. Gur Pyari Jandian. Manju Kapur's Difficult Daughters. A Study is Transition from chaos to integration. The Common Wealth Review Vol. 12 No. 1, 2000-2001.
4. Hasin, Attia. Sunlight on A Broken Column, New Delhi. Arnold Heinemann, 1987.
5. Jaidev "Problematizing Feminism Gender and Literature, ed. Iqbal Kapur, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1992.
6. Jandial Gur Pyari "The Novels of Shashi Deshpande and Manju Kapur. Atlantic Literary Review.
7. Kakar, Sudhir "Feminine Identity in India" Women in Indian Society A Reader, Ed. Rehana Ghadially, New Delhi. Sage Publications, 1988. p.44-68.
8. Millett, Kate, 'Sexual Politics' (Garden City, New York, Double Day, 1970).
9. Mukul Kesavan. 50 Years of Indian Writing Edited by R.K. Dhawan, New Delhi. Indian Association for English Studies 2000.
10. Nahal, Chaman, "Feminism "Feminism in English Fiction. Forms and variations" Feminism and Recent Fiction in English ed, Sushila Singh, New Delhi Prestige, Books, 1991.
11. Palkar, Sarla. "Beyond Purdah. Sunlight On A Broken Column, Margins of Erasure Ed. Jasbir Jain and Amina Amin, New Delhi. Stcrling Pub Pvt. Ltd. 1995.
12. Seema Malik "Crossing Patriarchal Threshold. Glimpses of the Incipient New Woman In Manju Kapur's Difficult Daughters" Indian Writing in English ed. Rajul Bhargava (Jaipur, Rawat, 2002).
13. Suman Bala and Subhash Chandra, "Manju Kapur's Difficult Daughters. A Absorbing Tale of Fact and Fiction. In 50 years of Indian writing edited by R.K. Dhawan, IAES, New Delhi, 1999.
14. Sumita Pal "The Mother. Daughters Conflict in Manju Kapur's Difficult Daughter's in Indian Writing in the new Millenium (Edited by R.K. Dhawan) IAES, New Delhi 2000.
15. Sushila Singh "Recent Trends in Feminest Through" Indian women Novelist ed. R.K. Dhawan (New Delhi, Prestige 1991) Set I.
16. Uma Paramaswaran Review of Difficult Daughters. World Literature Today No. 2 Spring 1999.
17. Veena Das. Critical Events. An Anthropological Perspective On Contemporary Indian OUP Delhi 1995.

Contributing Writer:Dr. Ram Sharma. Lecturer in English, Janta Vedic College MEERUT, U.P.

The Immigrant by Manju Kapur: review

The Immigrant by Manju Kapur: review

Since her first novel, Difficult Daughters (1998), Manju Kapur has established herself as a chronicler of middle-class Indian manners, even earning comparison with Jane Austen for her sharp-eyed, finely turned portraits of unremarkable lives.

The Immigrant is Kapur’s fourth novel. Unlike its predecessors, it is only partly set in India. The central characters, Nina and Ananda, are both NRIs (non-resident Indians) drawn to new lives in Canada in the Seventies.

Ananda leaves New Delhi after his parents are killed in a rickshaw accident. He is young, ambitious, determined to qualify as a Canadian dentist and citizen, in the footsteps of his uncle, who is already a wealthy doctor in Halifax. Kapur captures the painful gulf in familial expectations that separates the bereaved Ananda from his Canadian relatives. In their home he misses the intimacies of Indian life, the communal meals, rich spices and vegetarian diet he is used to. In time it dawns on him, “that being a relative did not bestow automatic rights, that being an orphan ceased to mean anything after you had eaten hundreds of meals at your aunt’s table”. Ananda’s feeling of rejection fades, his understanding of Western manners grows, but his sense of shame remains.

Nina leaves New Delhi to marry Ananda. Theirs is a partially arranged marriage, promoted by Ananda’s sister and Nina’s mother. Grief is one of the things the couple have in common, since Nina’s father, a well-travelled diplomat, died suddenly, leaving his daughter and widow to live in reduced circumstances. Nina has pursued a career, teaching English at Miranda House College (like Kapur herself), and has had her heart broken and sexual experience extended by a philandering professor 10 years older than her. On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, her prospects for marriage and a family of her own seem dire, until the sudden possibility of a new beginning in Canada.

Ananda and Nina are bound together by their overlapping loneliness. For Nina it is literally true that Ananda is all she has in Canada. When he is out at work she sleeps, reads or shops for sugar-rich junk food. Ananda has been professionally successful, and has made a small number of trusted friends beyond the circle of his relatives, but he brings to his marriage a more profound kind of loneliness centred on his sense of sexual inadequacy. He has tried and failed to have relations with Western women. He suffers from premature ejaculation: a condition he thinks an understanding and loyal Indian bride will cure.

Kapur carefully unravels the story of this desperate, but moving marriage. She does so without condescension and with careful attention to the couple’s mundane moments of tenderness. “That night, in bed, Nina was more prepared for the brevity of their sexual encounter. It was easier to not compare Ananda with his predecessor in a different country. ‘Welcome home, darling,’ said Ananda, putting his arm around his wife afterwards. And that was the main point, wasn’t it? Not her orgasms, but the fact that she was home.”

Immigration involves compromise, and sometimes it is the obvious – almost clichéd – cultural differences in food and clothing that Kapur focuses on. At other times she teases out the subtler signs of adjustment, as when Nina objects to Ananda’s friends calling him Andy, noting the telling difference between the injunction, “call me Andy” and the untruth, “my name is Andy”. Andy, Nina insists, is not a Hindu name.

Kapur explores the special challenges facing immigrant wives: the way a young woman’s life, already so pressured in professional and reproductive terms, becomes an even more impossible balancing act inside a foreign culture. When Nina hears over the phone that her mother back in New Delhi has died suddenly, she breaks down and howls with unrestrained grief. That grief throws into stark relief the muted resignation with which she has set about her marriage in Canada. Her mother had always promised to follow her abroad when she became pregnant. Nina had envisaged an idyllic future: mother, daughter and grandchild united at last in a Canadian home. But instead she is left adrift and alone to make sense of the compromises that have uprooted her. “Some Indians become immigrants slowly,” Kapur writes. Nina is a convincing example.

352pp, Faber & Faber, £12.99

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Home - Manju Kapur

When their traditional business - selling saris - is increasingly sidelined by the new fashion for jeans and stitched salwar kameez, the Banwari Lal family must adapt. But instead of branching out, the sons remain apprenticed to the struggling shop and the daughters are confined to the family home. As envy and suspicion grip parents and children alike, the need for escape - whether through illicit love or in the making of pickles or the search for education - becomes ever stronger. Very human and hugely engaging, "Home" is a masterful novel of the acts of kindness, compromise and secrecy that lie at the heart of every family.

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Member reviews

There are 3 review(s)

Absolutely brilliant

Posted by Prakash Iyer on 08/11/2011

Absolutely outstanding and a must read. The pace nevere slackens and you cannot put it down for even a minute.

Home by Manju Kapur

Posted by sugatha menon on 30/04/2012

Great read! Enjoyed every page! Manju has captured the smallest nuance of a typical business community of the north.


Posted by Shalini Gopalakrishnan on 27/04/2014

A complete, north Indian business family, drama. Takes you through the ups and downs and numerous other aspects of a joint family, spanning generations.

Manju (novel)


Manju (Mist ) is a novel by M. T. Vasudevan Nair published in 1964. The novel is set in the mountains and valleys of Nainital where Vimala Devi, a teacher in a boarding school, waits in hope for the winter of her discontent to vanish. The eco-feminist theme of patriarchal domination and exploitation gains more prominence in Manju. MT's only novel with a female protagonist. The novel stands apart as set in a milieu different from the usual one, the Valluvanadan village.

The plot of the novel is allegedly similar to a Hindi story Parinde (Birds, 1956), by Nirmal Verma. [1] However both MT and Verma have rejected these claims. MT said in an interview with India Today . "I don't remember having ever read Verma's story although we are very close friends. I wrote Manju immediately after I returned from a visit to Nainital." [1] Verma himself says it is ridiculous to accuse an author of MT's calibre of plagiarism. "My story's English translation was published only five or six years ago by HarperCollins. I don't think MT reads Hindi works in original. So there is no substance to the charge that MT had read it before he wrote his novel," says Verma. [1]

MT also directed and scripted a film with the same name based on the novel in 1983. The film stars Sangeeta Naik, Sankar Mohan, Sankara Pillai and Nanditha Bose. [2] The novel also had a Hindi-language film adaptation titled Sarath Sandhya. This film however went completely unnoticed.

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