A Lovesong for India by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

From The Guardian:

A-Lovesong-For-India-Tales-fIn a long and distinguished writing career, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has moved with apparent ease between novels, short stories and film scripts. She has also moved between continents: India, to which she went with her husband as a young woman, New York, London. She is now 84; this collection of short stories has all her trademark versatility, throwing up a diverse cast of characters, skipping from the mansion of a Bollywood star to professional life in New York. Eleven stories, sternly sorted into categories: India, Mostly Arts and Entertainment, The Last Decades.

I think I would rather have had them shuffled. Variety is one of her strengths – the shape-shifting quality of her imagination, the flourish of some new and entirely different setting, occupation, personality. Her own life would seem to be without compartments, and it is impossible not to see the life reflected in the work, the chameleon quality of a person moving at ease through Delhi or SoHo, but perhaps always the outsider looking on, taking note. The powerful title story seems to be an indictment of some parts of contemporary India. The outsider in this case is an Englishwoman, herself with British Indian Civil Service ancestry, long married to an Indian administrator of probity and integrity, who is chagrined by their son's involvement with a new power structure of corruption and manipulation; perhaps both he and his wife are now the outsiders. The theme of the European absorbed by – besotted with – India surfaces again in the story of Maria, a professor of oriental studies, who becomes the acolyte to a flamboyant and possessive Indian poetess, thus losing, eventually, all control over events.

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