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The Guru of Love by Samrat Upadhyay
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The Guru of Love (2003)

by Samrat Upadhyay

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1225146,434 (3.48)21
  1. 00
    Changes: a Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: Though set in two very different parts of the world, both of these stories are about a menage a trois living situation between a married man, his wife and his mistress.
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Showing 5 of 5
I really enjoyed this. The premise is intriguing: rather than break up the family, a Nepalese man's wife invites his mistress to come and stay in their apartment. All the characters were fully drawn and their actions understandable, and I could feel sympathy for each one. Most impressively, the author is able to seamlessly integrate the culture and conflict of Nepal in the nineties into the story. That's a difficult task and many writers can't manage it and their books wind up sounding more like social studies textbooks than novels.

I've always been fascinated by Nepal, but I hadn't known much about it before. This book increased my knowledge a great deal as well as telling a touching story, and I think I would read this author again. ( )
2 vote meggyweg | Apr 16, 2010 |
My Nepalese read was by an author who has settled in the US, but spent his childhood (until the age of 21) in Nepal, and the book is set in Kathmandu. The Guru of Love is the story of a middle-aged teacher (Ramchandra) who falls in love (or lust) with a student. His wife initially leaves him, but decides instead to live with her husband and his lover. The book attempts to look at Ramchandra's disintegrating certainties about life, and his battles with conservatism and propriety in the face of doing what he knows is right. It is set in a Kathmandu at the boiling point of political unrest.
If it sounds like my descriptions of the plot are a little half-heared, it may be because I couldn't work up the enthusiasm for a book that was pretty awful from start to finish. The characters are terribly fleshed out, unsympathetic or unbelievable, and the menage a trois so comfortable as to be trivial. The family picture is completed by a smug brother-in-law and parents-in-law bordering on evil, all of which felt hackneyed. The attempts to include Nepalese politics and social unrest felt ham-fisted, and it seemed to me that Upadhyay was trying to give depth to a boring (to me, anyway) sexual situation by throwing in a few whiffs of local colour and hoping to pass the whole thing off as being somehow interesting because of its exoticism. In fairness, it was a quick read (2 sittings) and gave occasional glimpses of something deeper, such as in Ramchandra's relationship with his maturing daughter, but ultimately, not a recommendation from me.
1 vote GlebtheDancer | Aug 5, 2008 |
The text is deceptively simple. So much so that I almost stopped reading after the first 50 pages or so. But then the descriptions grabbed me and I became immersed in the foreign setting and characters. The book traces the story of a marriage tested by the husband's infidelity. Though the specific reactions of the characters did not fit my own expectations for what people would do in the same situation, the emotional power was real. ( )
  msjoanna | Mar 24, 2008 |
This started out and seemed to me like it was going to be another tale of a foolish mid-life man throwing his life away because he has an affair with a younger woman. But it turns out to be far more subtle than that, and the novel turns out to be a fascinating exploration of families and how they interact, set against the backdrop of the pro-democracy movement in 1990 in Nepal. I found this book really compelling, with realistic and interesting characters set against the backdrop of a richly detailed evocation of life in Kathmandu. ( )
2 vote frithuswith | Oct 13, 2007 |
Not since Rohyntyn Mistry have I found someone who understands family dynamics (and the interplay of money and power and love) as this author does. Ooops, I take that back. He's definitely not as good as Rohyntyn Mistry. But I didn find the WIFE in this book to be a very sympathetic character ( )
  batchoy | Aug 26, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618382682, Paperback)

Set against a backdrop of prodemocracy unrest in contemporary Katmandu, The Guru of Love tells the story of a lowly tutor who ends up in a most irregular domestic ménage. Ramchandra lives in a shabby apartment house with his well-born wife and their children. He doesn't plan on becoming a cad, but when a beautiful young single mother named Malati becomes his student, he's drawn into a relationship with her. A powerful ambivalence marks his romance with the girl: "He had an urge to walk toward Tangal, knock on Malati's door, and tell her not to come to his house anymore, that he could no longer tutor her. Or perhaps crawl into bed next to her." When Ramchandra's wife Goma finds out about the affair, she has a unique solution--she asks Malati and her baby daughter to move into their apartment. Goma sleeps with the children and instructs the adulterous couple to share the master bedroom. She insists,: "Why don't you two go inside the bedroom, and I'll bring you some food." This license sits uneasily upon Ramchandra, much as democratic liberation sits uneasily upon the old city of Katmandu. The Guru of Love is ultimately a sweet, sad look at an indestructible family. It also gives us, in Ramchandra's wife Goma, a surprising, cunning, and altogether charming heroine. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Ramchandra is a math teacher earning a low wage and living in a small apartment in Kathmandu with his wife and two children. Moonlighting as a tutor, he engages in an illicit affair with one of his tutees, Malati, a beautiful, impoverished young woman who is also a new mother. She provides for him what his wife, who comes from a privileged background, does not: desire, mystery, and the beauty of a simpler life. Not surprisingly, the affair soon upends Ramchandra's family, and he learns that he knows far less about his wife - and about himself than he thought." "Complicating matters is Kathmandu itself, a small city bursting with the conflicts of modernization, a static government, and a changing population. Just as Kathmandu must contain its growing needs, so must Ramchandra learn to accommodate both tradition and his very modern desires."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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