Sensuous generational novel about a Sikh mother whose secret past corrodes her life with tragic consequences for all - a humorous meditation on memory, exile and self-reinvention, by a 29-yr old.
'Take off your clothes I want to see you' Karam said.Just a few words, spoken like a caress made Sarna start wondering. Did he learn such new and passionate techniques in London?
When Sarna Singh leaves the lustrous green hills of Uganda for England, streets of cramped old houses were not what she was expecting. Husband Karam has been seduced by the historical feel of the city of London. Sarna, however, is convinced they have moved to England so he can visit his secret London lady friends. Sarna has a secret of her own, but she is adept at hiding it. She impresses her English teacher with her attempt at a cutglass accent, and copious gifts of delicious food. With two children to educate, money is scarce, and soon, she is devising weekly shoplifting expeditions to the supermarket.
But all the while, Sarna is tormented by a mistake she made as a young woman in India. Scarred by his brush with death at a refugee camp in Lahore, Karam restlessly searches for a new kind of history which he can be part of. Sarna, meanwhile is too ashamed to acknowledge her trauma. Retreating into ther kitchen, she tres to hide her pain behind a witty veil of words and the shadowy smells of spice, she cooks zealously, sweetening her thoughts with syrup, or suffocating them with the hottest spice she can find. But when she receives an unexpected letter from back home, her assumed equilibrium is shattered to the skies. It carries an ultimatum she cannot ignore.
Just when it seems like Karam and Sarna are becoming reconciled to their demons, Nina tracks them down. here is the person whose existence almost everyone is anxious to deny. The secrets of the past begin to unravel. Sarna must marry Nina off or risk exposure, but first she teaches her the language of love which, for Sarna, is also the language of artifice: cookery.
Set on an epic backdrop from Partition, the Coronation and Churchill's funeral, to the present day, Priya Basil explores with compassion, the universal complexities of vanity and love. Her sensuous portrayal of the trials and tribulations of the Singh family carries universal truths for all of us.
About Author Priya Basil
PRIYA BASIL was born in London in 1977. She spent her childhood in Kenya and now divides her time between London and Berlin. ISHQ AND MUSHQ is her first novel.Random House Australia
Author: Priya BasilISBN: 9780385611435 / 0385611439RRP: $32.95