Out of India (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born in Germany in 1927, emigrated with her family to England in 1939, and emigrated again, this time to India, in 1951 as the wife of an Indian architect; after many years in India, she resides in the United States. As one might perhaps expect, her work is characterized above all by a sharp and astringent intelligence which observes the customs and habits of many national groups and subgroups without appearing to accept any of them; a faint sense of wonder—Why would people behave like that?—pervades even the shortest of her fictions.
In these stories, which span three decades of her career, several nationalities are observed through the complex and shifting “pecking order” of the Indian subcontinent. All emerge in some way or other with discredit. In one of the earlier stories, “The Man with the Dog,” Jhabvala fixes on a leftover from the time of European domination, the Dutchman Boekelman, who has refused to go home after the end of the war and the coming of Indian independence. He lives a life of total seclusion from India, associating only with other exiles, and able to speak only two words of Hindi, achchha (all right) and pani (water). Ridiculously he does not notice his own vulnerability, exploiting and provoking his Indian landlady and lover, till she tells him to go. Even...
(The entire section is 1907 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Booklist. LXXXII, April 15, 1986, p. 1182.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, April 15, 1986, p. 594.
Library Journal. CXI, April 15, 1986, p. 95.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 3, 1986, p. 4.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, May 25, 1986, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIX, March 28, 1986, p. 51.
Time. CXXVII, May 12, 1986, p. 90.
Washington Post Book World. XVI, May 25, 1986, p. 9.
(The entire section is 46 words.)