Of Exile, Of Passion, or O-Pho?
Simi Malhotra
THE EXILES by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla HarperCollins India, 2011, 406 pp., 350
August 2011, volume 35, No 10

Not having read Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla’s first novel Ode to Lata, I approached his second one, The Exiles, with some trepidation. Let me at the outset, quite candidly, place my own prejudices on record: I have, of late, turned a bit wary, if not weary, of reading endless stories of listless exile, especially that of the Indian diaspora. However, to give Dhalla full credit, he is not your usual run of the mill diasporic writer writing just another story of exile. In fact, his story is refreshingly different, so much so that the title The Exiles seems somewhat metaphorical of its central plot of marital ennui, adultery, murder, suicide.

Dhalla’s novel, set across LA, Kenya and Mumbai, carefully, if not craftily, tells us a passionate story of love that consumes all those involved in the saga. The LA based banker Rahul Kapoor, married for long years to Pooja Bhatt with a grown up son Ajay, somewhere during the course of the novel strays and falls in love with a man, Atif. Just to clear the air, the ‘refreshingly different’ bit of this telling, that I referred to above, is not in Rahul’s falling in love with a man though.

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