Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Tiger's Daughter by Bharati Mukherjee

The Tiger’s Daughter, a fictional novel, was first published in 1971 and a first novel by Bharati Mukherjee. This novel is about an immigrant South Asian woman, Tara, born in Calcutta and schooled in the USA, specifically New York. Tara, returns to Calcutta on her own, without her American husband, to re-capture some of her childhood memories and that of her father’s Calcutta. On her arrival she is faced with strikes, riots and general unrest; however she ventures out to meet her friends from days gone by as well as the relatives. Throughout her visit there Tara attempts to reconcile her past memories with what she is witnessing in the land of her birth. Calcutta is going through a transformation that she does not recognize.

Mukherjee, skillfully writes about the immigrant experience of being torn between two cultures. Through Tara’s experiences of visiting the land of her birth, Mukherjee attempts to answer some of the questions about a sense of belonging. Calcutta is no longer what it used to be and so it ought not to be; every country evolves over time as a result of a variety of reasons. Mukherjee exposes the cultural nuances that have evidently not evolved as much as the political and economic changes. It is this cultural aspect that causes Tara the tension between her new adopted country of America and the memories of living in Calcutta. She easily adapts to the social scene in Calcutta; there is no rationale or discussion of engaging in the customs and traditions. It just happens.

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