Books by Usha Alexander

  • A lone woman travels fearlessly into the jungle to confront the enemy. She holds the fate of an entire world in her hands.

  • When Craig Olsen returns to Idaho to say goodbye to his dying uncle, who raised him, he comes face to face with matters he can no longer evade.

  • "A suspenseful narrative weaves the stories and secrets of two generations into one seamless drama ... a worthy literary journey." —Kirkus Discoveries

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« Curator of a Hollowed Conscience | Main | We Call This Progress »

December 17, 2012


You've dug deeply into the bowels of this book. From what you pull up, that appears to have been quite an act of bravery. I wonder if the reason this book is praised so highly is only because it seems to display a certain admiration for Western culture, and that makes Western readers feel more kindly disposed toward this author.

Thanks for reading the book and sharing your insights on it. So I don't have to! ;^)


You are welcome. I'd like to think I struck at the mind or heart of the book, but perhaps the digital disimpaction metaphor is more apt, given that my reading of the book makes you dislike it so much.

Thanks for reading it.

Well, the awkwardness in the scene you mention, intentional though it was, did earn Murukami a nomination for the annual "Bad Sex in Fiction" award in 2011. ;)

To me, Murukami's fictional representations of sexuality, and of the emotional dynamic between men and women, are highly gendered. The narrative perspective, for ex., even when framing the experience of a woman being raped, never shifts from limited third, and that person is clearly a heterosexual male. Embedded within that phallocentric perspective are moments so reductive, and symbolism so heavy-handed, they'd be great humor if only they weren't fashioned as serious lit. The distance and coldness you mention, which I find discomfiting, also seem, in part, artifacts of broad, fixed cultural concepts of female identity....


Thank you for your comment. I googled it and ... wow! You're right. Glad to know I wasn't the only one who noticed this sex scene was badly done.

The East vs West thing is not something I touched on in this essay, and this is an aspect of it — Murakami's notions of gender & sexuality as it relates to Eastern notions vs Western notions — would be a big topic.

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Books by Namit Arora

  • “Namit Arora does for Silicon Valley what Tom Wolfe did for Wall Street in The Bonfire of the Vanities: with keen eye and sharp wit, he captures the culture and mores of the place. But Arora is funnier. And sweeter.” —S. Abbas Raza, Editor, 3QD.

  • The Lottery of Birth reveals Namit Arora to be one of our finest critics. In a raucous public sphere marked by blame and recrimination, these essays announce a bracing sensibility, as compassionate as it is curious, intelligent and nuanced.” —Pankaj Mishra

Shunya Website

Namit wins 3QD Arts & Literature Prize 2011

Namit Arora's India Photo Archive