Author: David Davidar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670049182
Richly detailed and skillfully narrated, this work is an exuberant first novel that teems with a host of vibrant characters and is shot through with the brilliant colors of the deep south of India.
This is a novel about a family, and a village. The two are almost indivisible. The village, Chevathar, is set on the banks of India’s southernmost river, at the point where it flows into the Gulf of Mannar. It’s an idyllic setting, typical of villages on the Coromandel Coast. There are temples, a ruined fort, a church, the big house where the Dorai family live, a beach, and groves of mango trees—the blue mangoes of the title.
The story begins in the last year of the nineteenth century with Solomon Dorai. As the headman of Chevathar, he is desperately trying to hold together the fraying ends of village life at a time of great social and political unease. The spectre of caste unrest hangs about the South, threatening everything the Solomon holds dear—family, land, prosperity. When violence finally erupts, it takes Solomon, and the traditional structure of village life, with it.
Three generations of Dorais come and go in the village by the sea, winning and losing the battle for Chevathar. There are Solomon’s sons, the dazzling athletic Aaron and the studious Daniel, both exiled by their father’s death but in different ways, both determined to make their mark on the world. And there is Daniel’s son, Kannan, cast out of the paradise that his father creates on the bones of the old Chevathar.
The history of modern India ebbs and flows with the story of the Dorai family, their fortunes inevitably linked to it. The early struggles for independence, the emergence of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party, World War and finally the new India—the great events of the 20th century from the backdrop to the story of an extraordinary family
Richly detailed and skillfully narrated, ‘The House of Blue Mangoes’ is an exuberant first novel that teems with a host of vibrant characters and is shot through with the brilliant colors of the deep south of India.