Cover image for The last song of dusk
The last song of dusk
Shanghvi, Siddharth Dhanvant.
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by Time Warner Book Group, [2004]

Physical Description:
298 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Great Britain: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004.
Geographic Term:
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In the tradition of Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie a brilliant new voice tells an exuberant and tender story of love and loss, sex, karma, and colonialism set in 1920s India.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The vibrant, lush, and sometimes chaotic backdrop of postcolonial India has become fertile ground for a burgeoning circle of Indian novelists that Shanghvi now joins. His first novel blends biting social commentary with a sprawling family saga, beginning with the marriage of the beautiful Anuradha and handsome Vardhmaan, who seem destined to lead a charmed life. But a hateful stepmother does what she can to interfere, and when their first child, Mohan, dies in a tragic accident, their lives take a downward spiral. Vardhmaan continues to be haunted by Mohan's death for years, causing an emptiness that threatens to sever his relationship with Anuradha. Their house, which is filled with the wretched, infectious sadness of ancient memories of unrequited love, seems to take on a sinister life of its own when their second child nearly dies at birth. In a narrative laced with poetic imagery, Shanghvi juxtaposes political commentary with magical realism, Bollywood's excesses with Gandhi's austerity. Part fairy tale, part satire, part love story--all come together in a marvelously inventive debut. --Deborah Donovan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his first novel, Bombay-born Shanghvi carves a magic realism-tinged niche for himself between Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. In colonial India in the 1920s, Anuradha, a beautiful young bride, leaves her home in Udaipur and travels to Bombay to marry a man she has never met, the equally beautiful doctor, Vardhmaan. Shanghvi's India is an elegant, epicurean place: on the day of her departure Anuradha is serenaded by "an ostentation of peacocks that, just as the Marwar Express snorted its way out of Udaipur, unleashed their rain-beckoning cries of Megh-awuu, Megh-awuu...." The couple settles into Vardhmaan's familial home, and as beautiful people tend to, they have a stunning child, Mohan. This is all, of course, the setup for a fall; Mohan dies, and Anuradha and Vardhmaan descend into sadness and longing. The gloom lifts briefly when Anuradha goes away to Udaipur and brings back a 14-year-old orphan, Nandini, who sparks riots with her lascivious attire-the "mini sari"-and emerges as a national figure so important that even Gandhi asks to meet her. Anuradha and Vardhmaan, however, never quite recover from their loss, even when a new son, Shloka, is born. While not exactly purple, Shanghvi's prose can be a bit mauve: a simple necktie becomes "a dignified sartorial adjunct." Still, this is a sensual, delectable debut. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. West Coast author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Shanghvi makes an impressive debut with this work, which has already won the Betty Trask Award. Set in 1920s India, it opens like a fairy tale. Skilled songstress Anuradha marries the eligible bachelor doctor Vardhmann, and the couple begins a charmed life in Dwarika near the Arabian Sea. Both Anuradha and Vardhmann possess legendary beauty, but neither this attribute nor their wealth keeps tragedy from befalling them. Enter the young and brash Nandini, who is as much an artist of life as a painter, along with a whole host of madcap characters. Despite the couple's melancholy, the story never descends into total gloom. The novel remains a love story told with wit, even ribald humor, wrapped in a magic realism to rival Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Shanghvi enchants readers with delectable images and sensual scenes. From Arundhati Roy to Jhumpa Lahiri to Kiran Desai, India has produced outstanding fiction of late, and this exemplary first novelist will easily hold his own among them. Highly recommended.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.