Book Review: The Pleasure Seekers – Tishani Doshi

Title: The Pleasure Seekers
Author: Tishani Doshi
ISBN: 9781608192779
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Genre: Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

It’s 1968, and Babo Patel has decided to leave his home city of Madras for London.  He soon sheds the hallmarks of his Jain heritage, choosing to eat meat and drink alcohol, and generally becomes Westernized.  He meets Sian, a Welsh woman, and falls hopelessly in love with her.  When Babo’s parents hear of this, they immediately summon Babo back home.  Eventually they reconcile to the idea of a Welsh daughter-in-law, with the caveat that Babo and Sian must live in Madras for two years after their marriage.

Review:

I’m always looking for new South Asian literature, so when I saw The Pleasure Seekers in Bloomsbury USA’s catalog, my curiosity was immediately piqued.  Then I saw the endorsement quote on the cover – a blurb from Salman Rushdie.  I didn’t even need to know what it was about.  The South Asian setting and Salman Rushdie, my favorite author, were enough for me.

I was completely mesmerized by Tishani Doshi’s ability to manipulate language.  This book was beautifully written.  I can’t tell you how many passages I marked, hoping to share with you in my review, in the end deciding I couldn’t choose among them.  Doshi’s descriptions are lush and beautiful.  Whether she’s discussing a place, a person, or an emotion, she has the ability to convey so much through her prose.  The reader can feel the emotions pulsing through her words.  It’s an incredible talent, and as a result, The Pleasure Seekers is worth reading simply for the sheer beauty of Tishani Doshi’s writing.

A common theme running through The Pleasure Seekers is being away from your own country, in a foreign country with alien people and cultures.  Doshi captures these feelings wonderfully, really showing the reader how strange the entire experience is.  Even if you have never traveled to or lived in a foreign country, Doshi can make you understand the bereft excitement, those dueling forces that make you feel lost and found at the same time.  The quote below describes Sian in Madras as she writes a letter home to her family.

“I’m always a beginner here,” she wrote, trying to get to the heart of the melancholy that had set in ever since they’d taken up residence in Sylvan Lodge.  “I am always beginning because I cannot surrender a part of myself.  It’s difficult to explain.  Everyone has been more than generous, more than patient, and yet, it’s a feeling of being marooned, of not having quite reached my final destination.”

The Pleasure Seekers was a wonderfully written look at one family over decades, through tumultuous events in Indian history.  Though the plot does meander a bit towards the middle of the book, Doshi’s beautiful prose is a constant that ties the book together.  This is Doshi’s first novel, though she has published a collection of poetry called Countries of the Body.  Though I don’t usually read poetry, I’ll be seeking it out just because I cannot get enough of Doshi’s gorgeous writing.

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Comments

  1. This sounds wonderful; I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. This sounds wonderful; I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Is it me, or does it seem like South Asian and particularly Indian literature always seems richer, more vivid and beautiful than the average book? This sounds amazing.

  4. Is it me, or does it seem like South Asian and particularly Indian literature always seems richer, more vivid and beautiful than the average book? This sounds amazing.

  5. I haven’t read much South Asian lit in awhile, and your description of this book makes it sound really beautiful. I am also interested in the aspects of Jainism that you mention in the plot. Wonderful review! This book is going on my wish list right now!

  6. I haven’t read much South Asian lit in awhile, and your description of this book makes it sound really beautiful. I am also interested in the aspects of Jainism that you mention in the plot. Wonderful review! This book is going on my wish list right now!

  7. I need to read this book! I love fish out of water stories, because I can relate to them so well.

  8. I need to read this book! I love fish out of water stories, because I can relate to them so well.

  9. Oooh, definitely adding this to my wishlist! Like Kathy, I love “fish out of water” stories — and definitely relate to what you were saying in your review, Swapna, about those feelings of being both “lost and found” when traveling in a foreign place. It’s so exciting — and so terrifying!

  10. Oooh, definitely adding this to my wishlist! Like Kathy, I love “fish out of water” stories — and definitely relate to what you were saying in your review, Swapna, about those feelings of being both “lost and found” when traveling in a foreign place. It’s so exciting — and so terrifying!

  11. I’ve seen the cover a lot recently and thought it looked interesting. Glad to see your 4.5/5 rating. On the list it goes!

  12. I’ve seen the cover a lot recently and thought it looked interesting. Glad to see your 4.5/5 rating. On the list it goes!

  13. It sounds like this could be a very character driven novel. I am definitely interested.

  14. It sounds like this could be a very character driven novel. I am definitely interested.

  15. Wow, what a glowing review! I’m just discovering more South Asian writers, so I will have to check this one out. Thanks!

  16. Wow, what a glowing review! I’m just discovering more South Asian writers, so I will have to check this one out. Thanks!

  17. Wow! I definitely need to read this one!

  18. Wow! I definitely need to read this one!

  19. Is it the same book that I’ve read? I found it very pedestrian, a new writer obviously with the right connections.Do check other views on the book especially in the Indian reviews ‘Outlook’ ‘Time Out’ and maybe some of you should look at the @Lotusreads’ blog. I beg to differ.

  20. Is it the same book that I’ve read? I found it very pedestrian, a new writer obviously with the right connections.Do check other views on the book especially in the Indian reviews ‘Outlook’ ‘Time Out’ and maybe some of you should look at the @Lotusreads’ blog. I beg to differ.

  21. Leela – Thanks for the comment. I understand you beg to differ, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong in my review. It’s all subjective and my opinion, which my readers usually understand! I enjoyed the book very much, reading others’ negative reviews won’t change that opinion, though I will check out the places you mentioned.

  22. Leela – Thanks for the comment. I understand you beg to differ, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong in my review. It’s all subjective and my opinion, which my readers usually understand! I enjoyed the book very much, reading others’ negative reviews won’t change that opinion, though I will check out the places you mentioned.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Alansha from Lotus’ blog,

    Nice review but I am with Leela on this one, and I so definitely agree with Lotus after seeing your review literature is subjective. But are you telling your readers that the author has a blatant accusation of plagiarism twice!! currently on this book and earlier on her cricket blog which I just discovered today.

  24. Alansha from Lotus’ blog,

    Nice review but I am with Leela on this one, and I so definitely agree with Lotus after seeing your review literature is subjective. But are you telling your readers that the author has a blatant accusation of plagiarism twice!! currently on this book and earlier on her cricket blog which I just discovered today.

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