Clear Light of Day

Clear Light of Day

Book - 1980
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Set in India's Old Delhi, CLEAR LIGHT OF DAY is Anita Desai's tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel's heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women's college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.
Publisher: New York : Harper & Row, c1980
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780060109844
006010984X
Characteristics: 183 p. ; 22 cm

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

With her inner eye she saw how her own house and its particular history linked and contained her as well as her whole family with all their separate histories and experiences — not binding them within some dead and airless cell but giving them the soil in which to send down their roots, and food to make them grow and spread, reach out to new experiences and new lives, but always drawing from the same soil, the same secret darkness. That soil contained all time, past and future, in it. It was dark with time, rich with time. It was where her deepest self lived, and the deepest selves of her sister and brothers and all those who shared that time with her.

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Although it was shadowy and dark, Bim could see as well as by the clear light of day that she felt only love and yearning for them all, and if there were hurts, these gashes and wounds in her side that bled, then it was only because her love was imperfect and did not encompass them thoroughly enough, and because it had flaws and inadequacies and did not extend to all equally. ... All these would have to be mended, these rents and tears, and she would have to mend and make her net whole so that it would suffice her in her passage through the ocean.

m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Old Delhi does not change. It only decays. My students tell me it is a great cemetery, every house a tomb. Nothing but sleeping graves. Now New Delhi, they say is different. That is where things happen. The way they describe it, it sounds like a nest of fleas. So much happens there, it must be a jumping place. I never go. Baba never goes. And here, here nothing happens at all.

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mayog
Apr 24, 2019

You would think a novel set around the conflict of '47 in India and Pakistan would be driven by plot and danger, violence and war. But this novel, set in Old Delhi, focuses instead on that which remains steady and the same. This story tells of family, of four siblings and the choices they made. It tells of autism and alcohol-related dementia, of diabetes and secrets, of the choice to marry or never to marry. It also tells of the decision to love, and even to follow, those society deems your enemy. But at the heart of the novel stand old hurts needing to be forgiven, to be brought out and considered in the Clear Light of Day.

Once I settled into Desai's descriptive prose, I found the novel engaging and worth the time. It was, after all, a Booker Prize finalist. If you like evocative, descriptive prose driven less by plot than by observation, this is a wonderful choice.

u
uncommonreader
Jan 17, 2018

This novel published in 1980 was nominated for the Booker prize. Set in Old Delhi, it tells the story of two sisters and two brothers who have grown apart. It is about family and memories. In the end, the main character comes to an understanding of her life and the importance of family. It does succeed in creating a closed world.

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

mayog thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

A family from Old Delhi struggles to come to terms with their memories as they face their final years.

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m
mayog
Apr 24, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: There is alcoholism that leads one character (an elderly aunt) to exhibit nudity

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