This is my first book review for my blog, and I hope to continue this trend for more books that affect my thoughts in some way or the other. The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi is something I came across while downloading a torrent of over 4500 books. While I was browsing through the list of books, this one caught my attention firstly because it was by an Indian author, and secondly because I liked its cover (I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m a little biased).
If you read about Amulya Malladi on the internet, you would somehow feel that this story is that of the woman herself. The protagonist Priya Rao is back home to Hyderabad after seven years from the United States, which includes three years of courtship with American Nick Collins, which includes two years of living with him. As is the case with most people who return from the perfectly tidy and broad-minded States, Priya finds it difficult to re-adjust to the Indian surroundings she grew up in. At the very beginning, one might shake his head and click his tongue at the way Priya describes at the repulsion she feels even on tasting a mango cut open by a fruit vendor, but as the story progresses you find yourself sympathizing with these 27 year old girl, who is desperately looking for ways to break the news of her engagement to her family. Speaking of her family, there are a lot many characters whom you better encounter while reading the book itself, but it’s a pleasure watching few of them choosing to hold the reins of their lives as well, as they watch Priya gather the courage to tell everyone about Nick.
At some places I have had considerable difficulty coming to terms with the conservative and orthodox mentality of the family, which seemed a little exaggerated to me (though I admit I have never interacted with a Telugu Brahmin family, so my personal uneasiness doesn’t count). Sometimes the characters have looked more melodramatic than necessary, and if I were the author, I might have kept the element of racism away. Shortcomings apart, The Mango Season is not a long story (you can say it’s a short story told long) and quite worth your spare time. On the brighter side, you can learn some really cool South Indian recipes (mostly involving mangoes) that are thrown in between. In a nutshell, you can give it a shot if you want to get a taste of “Indianness” and its perpetual conflict with “non-Indianness”, and realise how the ultimate mantra of happiness is to break free.