Suzanne Ruta
May 01, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Memories of Rain

Current Status
In Season
Sunetra Gupta

We gave it an A-

Born in Calcutta, educated at Princeton, living in London, Sunetra Gupta writes like a Bengali % Joyce Carol Oates, in long, breathless run-on sentences that move with a sleepwalker’s intuition between past and present, India and Britain, acute observation and undefined longing. Moni is a dreamy Calcutta college student with a head full of Brit lit and Rabindranath Tagore’s romantic poetry. She marries an Englishman who takes advantage of her passivity and cultural bewilderment to pursue a new love affair with sadistic ease. The gap between the Britain adored in India and the claustrophobic reality of the actual place is charted in exquisite, down-to-the-last-teacup detail. The gap between Tagore’s high art and Calcutta’s violence and poverty also dawns on Moni as she awakens painfully into adulthood. To round out the Anglo-Indian ironies, Gupta includes numerous echoes of scenes from Virginia Woolf’s 1925 London novel Mrs. Dalloway. Memories of Rain, a moving first novel from a gifted writer who’ll be even better once she cuts the umbilical cord to her British predecessors.

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