Nectar in a Sieve: A Novel

Nectar in a Sieve: A Novel

Nectar in a Sieve: A Novel

Nectar in a Sieve: A Novel

Excerpt

Kamala Markhandaya's first novel, Nectar in a Sieve, recalls K. S. Venkataramani Murugan the Tiller ( 1927). It is a story of village folk--the apparently hopeless story of helpless people--but the narrator-heroine, Rukmini, is drawn firmly, and she is revealed (or, rather, she reveals herself) as the veritable Mother of Sorrows. Two other Indian novels have a similar theme, Shivarama Karanth's The Return to the Soil ( 1955), translated from the original Kannada by A. N. Murthy Rao, and Vyankatesh Madgulkar's The Village Has No Walls ( 1959), translated from the original Marathi by Ram Deshmukh. The Indian peasant has his roots in his village, and when he is forced to leave it, he is like a man who has lost his soul. The tenacity of his attachment to the soil is the theme of many an Indian novel, and characters like Murugan in Venkataramani's novel or Vencatachalam in Shanker Ram's Love of Dust (1938) are prototypical of Indian peasantry. In her second novel, Some Inner Fury, Kamala Markhandaya delineates the love of an Indian girl for an Englishman, and woven into this central theme are other strands--the conflict between the old and the new and the "Quit India" movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. Not the least of Kamala Markhandaya's claims to recognition are the purity and suggestiveness of her English style. These are clearly exhibited in A Silence of Desire (1960), the story of a Hindu couple's near-destruction as a result of their general despair and their inability to help one another.

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