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Published Date : February 14, 2012
Like Jhumpa Lahriri, Monica Ali and Arundhati Roy, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has long captured the Western-Indian experience. In this expansive story collection, Jhabvala continues her lifelong meditation on East and West. Set in India, England, and New York City, A Lovesong for India reveals what unites us across oceans, cultures, and lifetimes.
In “Innocence,” an older couple, whose social standing is marred from a decades-old scandal, rents out rooms in their Delhi home for both companionship and income. Isolated and battling blame and guilt, the couple becomes deeply invested in the lives of their two tenants. With the addition of a third renter—a beautiful and provocative woman from India—tensions in the household push the story to its feverish conclusion.
The story “Talent” finds Jhabvala in New York City reflecting on the friction between family and societal expectations. Magda is a talent scout whose entire life is her work until she meets Ellie, a singer whose immense ability and unguarded personality captivate Magda. Soon Ellie is integrated into Magda’s extended family for better or worse.
Remarkable and unwavering, this collection is the hallmark of Jhabvala’s celebrated career and a testament to her “balance, subtlety, wry humor, and beauty” —The New York Times.
RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA is the author of nineteen books. She is the recipient of Booker Prize, a MacArthur fellowship, and has been honored with an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Jhabvala’s screenplays for Merchant-Ivory Productions have earned two Academy Awards. Jhabvala and her husband divide their time between Delhi and New York.
“Jhabvala demonstrates the concise and detached writing style for which she is known and praised. Her reputation alone ought to be enough to recommend this collection, but its energy, subtlety, and beauty legitimize its place in all fiction collections.” —Library Journal
“Ruth Prawer Jhabvala [is] a prodigious talent . . . India is here in full Technicolor, but so are Piccadilly and Park Avenue. This writer’s genius—unlike Conrad’s or Forster’s or even Austen’s—is that she points out how essentially similar insiders and outsiders can be.” —The Washington Post
“…A cinematic quality… The opulent setting and plot twists are noteworthy… Jhabvala’s exquisite sensibilities promise a more satisfying engagement.” —Publishers Weekly
“If these 11 exquisitely crafted stories are indeed love songs, they sing not so much of India as of the vulnerability of the human heart… acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala sketches, with a few deft strokes, the longings and losses of people she encountered or perhaps imagined… Her stories speak to the essential impossibility of ever really knowing, let alone owning, another human being, especially someone you dearly love.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Each work has her hallmark of balance, subtlety, wry humor, and beauty.”–The New York Times Book Review
“After 17 books thorny with existential and intellectual issues, Jhabvala has unleashed her imagination to rewrite her own past. In nine pieces of ‘autobiographical fiction’ set in New York, London, and India, septuagenarian Jhabvala imagines alternative paths her life might have taken . . . Each story is sinewy with compressed emotion and intellectual energy, as well as the poignancy of a thwarted search for love. Each can stand on its own as a finely crafted example of an accomplished storyteller’s art.” –Publishers Weekly
“Jhabvala is spellbinding, whether she’s writing her celebrated fiction or Academy Award–winning screenplays . . . In episodes set in London, New York, and India, in both the humblest and most opulent of abodes, she portrays artists, philosophers, politicians, and alcoholics. Jhabvala name-drops Chekhov, and this is no pretension given the grace of her spiraling plots, the depth of her psychology, the elegance of her humor, the subtlety of her eroticism, and her masterfully concise descriptions of imperiled households, eccentric personalities, sexual enthrallment, unexpected alliances, and transcendent love.” –Library Journal
“These stories . . . show an admired writer . . . in total possession of her creative powers.” –Literary Review
“Savor this fine collection of stories . . . the sort of writing that marks out a genuine mistress of her craft.” –The Sunday Times
“Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a wonderful natural storyteller . . . utterly compelling. It is a delight, from first page to last.” –The Scotsman
“She creates a scenario so powerfully that you are there with her in the spicy heat of India.” –The Daily Telegraph
“One is dazzled but tantalized by veiled fragments of a life that might have been.” –Guardian
“Imagining what life might have been . . . this is fiction that comes as close to autobiography as the author dares.” –Emma Hagestadt