Fourth Estate, £12.99
Another Country, By Anjali Joseph
This tale of three cities captures the mind and mood of a heroine in search of herself, and a home
Saturday 30 June 2012
Anjali Joseph's prize-winning debut novel Saraswati Park was praised for its scope in bringing to life a modern Bombay. Her second work is far more introspective, and more autobiographical; like Joseph, her protagonist Leela Ghosh is a Cambridge English graduate, who struggles with young adulthood while living in Paris, London and then Bombay.
After university and without any sense of direction, Leela teaches English in Paris, inwardly obsessing over an indifferent man, while trying to mask her fermenting anger and absorb the insouciant sophistication she associates with the city. Joseph displays her descriptive prowess through Leela's detailed observations of setting and character quirk. Running alongside is the constant self-doubt which adds a startling authenticity.
Next London, where Leela seems no closer to the inner contentment or intimate connection she craves. In a dead-end relationship, she struggles with issues of class and identity. In one scene a friend's wealthy family are disappointed she hasn't got more exotic "aristocratic or artistic" roots. International displacement and the sense of not belonging remain at the heart of Leela's journey. "The world was one thing, and it was colossal. One, next to it, was perpetually in danger of being forgotten."
For the final destination Joseph revisits Bombay. At first Leela goes travelling where she feels alone and bored, until she finds a job, a hostel, and begins to settle. Leela's female friends carve out an independent existence; at work, the jocular Sathya chooses not to marry and hides his sadness. Finally, there is a love interest, Vickram: wealthy, intense and ready to commit.
That Leela's passions are not developed alongside her angst may be a criticism that could be levelled at Another Country. But Joseph's art in creating character through the shifting processes of thought, shaped by experience, is what makes this flawed novel still compulsive reading.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East