My impression from reviews was that this was serious fiction; the glamourous cover led me to think otherwise. However, I needn’t have worried. This book tackles a lot of issues: class conflict, guilt, violence against women, and also the question of how many saris a new bride really needs.
The protagonist, Ramchand, works in a sari shop. From this vantage point he encounters a cross section of society in Amritsar, a provincial city in India. He is a passive man, depressed, anxious, prone to headaches. Yet he is a keen observer. Will he manage to become more than that, a man of action? This is the book’s central dilemma.
I read books like this for the story, but also for the local color, which this book provides in abundance. It describes day-to-day life in modern India: people’s houses (both rich and poor), the food they eat, their shops, and their clothes. The author is skilled at providing the small details that can make a scene memorable. The book is a satisfying combination of evocative description and a thoughtful plot.
Here is a link to a review with a longer plot summary.
(Book 38, 2006)