Book Name: Voice of the Rain Season
Author: Subrata Dasgupta
Book Blurb: On a September Saturday afternoon in 2011, Martin Shawncross and Joya Bose in perfect synchrony surrendered their respective virginities. That Martin, a twenty-one-year-old American, had waited so long for this momentous personal event would have scandalized his friends and family were they to know about it. That Joya, a twenty-five-year-old Bengali, did not wait longer for this same experience would no doubt have scandalized her family had they come to know of it.
Thus begins this gossamer tale of love and discovery, reaching back to a past spanning four generations and two continents. Narrated through the seemingly banal story of a young couple falling in love in present-day America, Voice of the Rain Season explores by way of memory, history and old letters, the life of a family in a pre-Independence Bengal. It unearths through Joya’s discovery of the family’s long forgotten secret, notions of identity, homecoming, language and loss.
The heart of Dasgupta’s novel, however, lies in the glory of Tagore’s Rabindra Sangeet and the beauty of classical music, as it surpasses geographical boundaries and seeps effortlessly into the hearts of a people far-removed from the Bengali landscape.
Review: Voice of the Rain Season is a romantic literary novel and largely about the affair between a Bengali student Joya Bose who also teaches in order to support herself. The novel is contemporary and will be quite familiar to Indian students who have lived in the UK or US.
There are many literary references and at its core, it can be said that Voice of the Rain Season is also about literature. Major characters are from the academic field and so you will find references to Bengali stalwarts such as Nirad C. Chaudhari frequently.
The narration is subtle and works very well for the book. There is no exaggerated drama and this makes the novel closer to reality. For example, the dilemma Joya faces after having slept with her lover but reconciles reminding herself that she was not a teacher in the strict sense but only a student who taught in order to support herself.
The stigma of such relationships and the cultural differences are well recounted in the book.
“…They knew too well, as did the rest of the family, that there was a feeling of mutual and permanent animosity between the two couples, an animosity their elders would have firmly clamped down from surfacing at family gatherings.”
This is a wonderful read and may surprise you. The author’s language is superb and while the tale is kept short, nevertheless it gives a unique insight into Bengali culture and literature.