Sunday, May 17, 2009

Toss of a lemon by Padma Viswanathan

It has been over a month since we met to discuss this book, and somehow this post slipped away. We planned to discuss ToL and also Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley. Mostly we spoke about the book. Jamie provided fresh lemons from Arizona! The crowd generally approved of the book, Amardeep was surprised to like it as well as he did since he expected the story to be a rehash of widow-as-victim. The things that captured the imagination were the details of daily life- lots of thinking about how things are done and made. There was a wild card in the form of Mushami the gay overseer. Sonan I think found the story a bit stultifying. All agreed heartily that the book evinced a ton of research- though the basis of the story seems to be family history, the amount of detail on the traditions of Brahman families is vast. The sections that Kate P. and some others found most interesting historically were the depiction of an anti-caste system Ramayana play put on by lower caste Tamils in the town, (apparently this is historically accurate) also the visitations of Siddhis at the beginning of the story, prompting discussion about the difference between Siddhis and Saddhus.... Sita got the short shrift since people forgot to watch it for the most part, but those who did had glowing reviews. One question not answered- why does Laxman not take much part in this version? Perhaps to emphasize the (end of) love story interpretation by Paley.