April 18, 2011

The Pleasure Seekers - Tishani Doshi

The Pleasure Seekers is another book that was long listed for the 2011 Orange Prize but did not make it to the short list. Unlike with Whatever You Love I would have liked to have seen this book make the short list - I'm not sure if I really have any idea about the criteria judges use to take a book to the next level (surely it must be subjective to some degree??) but I felt this was a beautiful story told brilliantly.

The story starts in India in 1968 when Babo Patel, the eldest son of Prem Kumar Patel and his wife Trishala, is about to set out for London to continue his studies, make a success of himself in business and return to India to marry a nice Indian girl of the Jain faith. This plan is all set to succeed until Babo meets and falls in love with Welsh girl, Sian.

On many levels this is an ordinary story about an ordinary family going about the ordinary tasks and events of daily life - love, study, employment, death, trauma, conflict, happiness. What makes this book special is the way in which the story is told. These ordinary events which could be told in a fleeting, superficial way become rich stories of character - you feel in some ways as though you are a member of the Patel family too, living the story along with them. This is true skill in a writer for me - I could have read about this family for another 500 pages easily and not become disinterested.

A beautiful story with memorable characters (the character of Babo's daughter Bean would have to be one of the richest, most fully developed characters I have read in a long time - loved her!) - one to savour and read again.


verity said...

I think this was my favourite out of all of the Oranges that I read this year.

Audra said...

Sounds like a really stunning book -- my favorite kind of novel. I've decided to try to work my way through the Orange shortlists and then longlists -- I might play around with that, though, to get to this book sooner!

nomadreader said...

I've heard great things about this one and am really looking forward to it!

Nadia said...

Sounds like such a pleasurable read. I'll definitely be adding this one to my Kindle. Its a pity it wasn't on the shortlist - I do wonder how they go about deciding on the final few that make it. Would be neat to be a fly on the wall during that discussion.

Dabarai said...

I must admit I really loved it too - the language was really fantastic, and this was a great story beautifully told.

Karen said...

Hi Verity - it is definitely up near the top for me too!

Hi Audra - The Orange lists are always great places to find fantastic reads - I have rarely been disappointed.

Hi nomadreader - I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Hi Nadia - I know what you mean! I can only imagine, as I said in my review, that there has to be a huge subjective element to the decision making.

Hi Dabarai - It sounds like you and I felt much the same about this one!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fabulous book. I'm working on increasing my number of multicultural reads as well, and a book centered on an Indian family sounds like just the place to start! Thanks for a great review!

Karen said...

Hi wereadtoknow - I hopeyou seek this one out (no pun intended!).

Danielle said...

This is one of the few of the Orange list that I broke down and bought. I started it but seem to have a backlog of books to get through so am looking forward to getting back to it!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

So, I'm not even familiar with the Orange list. I shall rectify that soon! This one sounds really good. New to me author and book.
2 Kids and Tired Books

Buried In Print said...

This wasn't one of my favourites, but I can see how other readers could connect with her language and how that, alone, could make the difference in terms of how much one loves this story. I found that it read easily enough, but I wasn't absorbed the way that I'd hoped to be.

I'm just catching up on Orange responses (having saved them until I'd gotten farther with the Orange longlist myself), so I'm late coming to your Orange thoughts, but curious whether you're planning to read Aboulela's Lyrics Alley. I found there was a similar feel there.

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