Thursday, September 10, 2015

book review: Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

The backstory: Sleeping on Jupiter is on the 2015 Booker Prize longlist.

The basics:  From the publisher: "A train stops at a railway station. A young woman jumps off. She has wild hair, sloppy clothes, a distracted air. She looks Indian, yet she is somehow not. The train terminates at Jarmuli, a temple town by the sea. Here, among pilgrims, priests and ashrams, three old women disembark only to encounter the girl once again. What is someone like her doing in this remote corner, which attracts only worshippers? Over the next five days, the old women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide finds ecstasy in forbidden love; and the girl is joined by a photographer battling his own demons."

My thoughts: Roy is an author I've been meaning to read for years. I have copies of her earlier books on my shelf, so I was thrilled to see this book, which I had not heard of (there's no announced U.S. release). From the first page, I was enthralled. Nomi, the young woman who is in some ways the center of this novel, is a fascinating character. The first scene is powerful, as are the flashbacks to Nomi's time living in Jarmuli. Although the novel itself stretches for only five days, the reader gets many glimpses into the past.

Roy incorporates a lot of ideas into this novel, and although they are themes I typically respond to, I couldn't shake the idea that in the opening scenes it felt like this novel is about Nomi. I didn't enjoy the scenes with the three old women vacationing as much, and at times felt Roy was writing two different novels. Despite loving one thread of the story and admiring Roy's writing, this novel never quite came together for me. It's good, but it's a shame the whole wasn't as great as some of its parts.

Favorite passage:  "Their train was just a parcel of people rushing through a landscape they had no connection to."

The verdict: Roy's writing is beautiful and makes Jarmuli come alive. Nomi and her story were the highlight of this novel for me, and I wished she had been more of the focus. Parts of this novel are exquisite, but the emphasis shifted too much towards the issues and peripheral characters for my taste.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 256 pages
Publication date: April 2, 2015 (UK--no U.S. publication yet)
Source: purchased

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Sleeping on Jupiter from Amazon.

Want more? Visit Anuradha Roy's website and like her on Facebook

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  1. I'm so excited about this book and the Booker prize nudge doesn't hurt either. I haven't read any of her other stuff and I wonder why.

  2. I've been following the review of the long-list with interest, but decided only to try the shortlist. Looking forward to tomorrow!


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