Of Changing Landscapes
Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee
DIVINE MUSIC: A NOVEL by Suruchi Mohan Orient Publishing,, 2012, 256 pp., 240
April 2012, volume 36, No 4

It is rarely that one comes across a full fiction based on music. In Indian Bhasha literature, one immediately remembers S.L. Bhyrappa’s Saraswati Samman winning Kannada novel Mandra and Bani Basu’s Bengali novel Gandharvi. So far as English fiction by an Indian writer is concerned we have Amit Chaudhuri’s Afternoon Raga and Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, where Seth brilliantly conveys the intense and complex interplay of chamber musicians-an odd, obsessed, introspective, separatist breed-both in rehearsal and in per-formance. Suruchi Mohan’s debut novel Divine Music is the latest addition to this short list.

The novel is a complex, sophisticated, elegant investigation of trauma and desire-like a white hot flame. It traces a gifted young girl Sarika’s passionate struggle to realize her talents as a singer, in a North Indian bourgeois society where the mother sits through the session when a male teacher gives private tui-tion to a girl student. It is also the coming-of-age tale of Sarika in the sense that she falls for the charm of her revered guru Kirana Saheb who not only recognizes her great potential but nurtures it towards blossoming and recogni-tion. Sarika’s journey takes her further, but the price of recognition, when it finally comes, is steep.

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