Jennifer Reese
October 01, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Elephanta Suite

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Paul Theroux
publisher
Houghton Mifflin
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

In three astringent novellas, Paul Theroux pokes holes in fatuous Western illusions about India. A sybaritic couple experience their ayurvedic-spa vacation as an erotic reverie, until they are jarred by sectarian violence. A frigid lawyer discovers the pleasures of poor teenage prostitutes. In The Elephanta Suite‘s strongest tale, ”The Elephant God,” a Brown grad envisions India as a testing ground for her independence — though no student will want to follow in her tragic footsteps. While the novellas are fascinating, all three could have been cropped into even punchier short stories. B+

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