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The Age of Shiva: A Novel by Manil Suri
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The Age of Shiva: A Novel (2008)

by Manil Suri

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I listened to this novel and must say that the narrator did a very good job and added to the experience by making it easier to get into the lives of the characters. The narration was very well done and was probably the reason why I finished the book.

I am not sure what to make of this novel. On the one hand it is the story of a woman who wanted only to be a mother and wife and ran into the ambitions of her father and family. They wanted her to be one of the "new" Indians, an educated career-oriented woman who was not bound by the traditions and restrictions of the society around her. However, it was clear that was not what she wanted. She wanted to be a traditional Indian mother and wife and did everything she could to circumvent and subvert their ambitions. It was also the story of a woman who became so involved with her son that, if it wasn't an incestuous relationship, it bordered on incest, to the point where it interfered with her ability to live life as well as that of her son to live his life. The inability of the main character to see that she had done anything wrong in the many relationships in her life grated and frankly made her unsympathetic and extremely hard for the reader to like.

The strong point of the book was the history of modern India, told from the point-of-view of an upper middle income Indian woman, the humor found in the pages, and the lyrical prose. There were passages in the novel that were simply laugh-out-loud funny. These were unexpected and very well done and in fact rescued the novel from the unbearable. The way the author weaved historical events into the story was also well done and the placement of these in the novel were strategic and important the outcome of the story and, again, these passages were well done.

This is a writer who shows promise and I do have another of his novels on my shelves that I plan on reading. I think that perhaps the novel was simply to ambitious for the abilities of the writer at this point in his career. It is also possible that it would resonate better with an Indian audience who could identify with the lifestyle of the main character better than could I. ( )
  benitastrnad | Dec 7, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I disliked this book so much when I received as part of the Early Reviewers program in 2007 that I deleted it from my library. Unfortunately, that also deleted the review which I need to have for purposes of the program. So I'm putting it back in, but with considerable reluctance. ( )
  philipivan | Jul 6, 2014 |
A beautifully written book and a compelling story. And having read Death of Vishnu and this book now, I eagerly wait for his third book and any other writing from Suri. He's talented and a strong, poetic writer. The story in Age of Shiva is engaging and clever, keeping me interested and entertained. ( )
1 vote ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
Manil Suri's debut novel "The Death of Vishnu" showed great promise and that's how I came to read "The Age of Shiva". It struck me as unusual (but by no means unique or odd) that the author, being a male writer, narrated this novel (all 451 pages of it) on behalf of his female protagonist, from the first person, to be exact. He endeavored to get into female psyche and largely succeeded, except on one issue, which didn't seem natural to me. On the whole, I liked the book. I was enlightened by the sociological description of Indian society, though not completely new to me, and the country's political struggles over the years covered in the book. But all that was a background to the drama of Meera's life, and that's where I thought it was a bit too melancholic for my taste, at times distressingly so. This feeling of unrelenting sadness and frustration threads through the whole book and there seems to be no way out, even though at the very end there is an optimistic note, not too convincing for me, alas...Anyway, that's my subjective impression... But, again, the author himself admits in the after note that he never meant for Meera to be a "noble" heroine... As for his writing style, I was amazed that being not a professional writer, but a mathematics professor (!), Manil Suri has displayed such impressive talent. ( )
  Clara53 | Aug 10, 2011 |
Lovely book. After reading the Death of Vishnu it is great that the author can write a second brilliant novel. I so enjoy Indian writers and Suri is an excellent example of a fabulous story.
  shazjhb | Mar 12, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393065693, Hardcover)

"In The Age of Shiva India's birth as a new nation parallels a woman's complex psychological journey confronting tradition and modernity. Exchanging sentimentality for clear vision, Suri reveals an immense humanity, and a tenderness for women making their way in a world of men. Drawn by this compelling narrative, I read this marvelous book in one sitting." —Kiran Desai, author of The Inheritance of Loss, recipient of the Man Booker Prize

Following his spectacular debut, The Death of Vishnu, Manil Suri returns with a mesmerizing story of modern India, richly layered with themes from Hindu mythology. The Age of Shiva is at once a powerful story of a country in turmoil and an extraordinary portrait of maternal love. 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. When Meera’s reverie comes true, it does not lead to the fairy-tale marriage she imagined. She escapes her overbearing father only to find herself thrust into the male-dominated landscape of India after independence. Dev’s family is orthodox and domineering, his physical demands oppressive. His brother Arya lusts after her with the same intensity that fuels his right-wing politics. Although Meera develops an unexpected affinity with her sister-in-law Sandhya, the tenderness they share is as heartbreaking as it is fleeting. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Meera 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." "When Meera's reverie comes true, it does not lead to the fairy-tale marriage she imagined. She escapes her overbearing father only to find herself thrust into the male-dominated landscape of India after independence. Dev's family is orthodox and domineering, his physical demands oppressive. His brother Arya lusts after her with the same intensity that fuels his rightwing politics. Although Meera develops an unexpected affinity with her sister-in-law Sandhya, the tenderness they share is as heartbreaking as it is fleeting." "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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393065693, 0393333639

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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