Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review: The Elephanta Suite

The Elephanta Suite is by Paul Theroux. Theroux is well-known as a travel writer. In fact, my first experience with his work was The Great Railway Bazaar. This is a collection of three short stories. The stories are unrelated, although one charachter in each of the stories has stayed in the Elephanta Suite in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. All three stories involve Americans who have come to India for various reasons and their interaction with Indians and India.
In the first story, a rich couple come to India for one week stay in a spa/health resort. The husband and wife each meet someone at this exclusive resort and get caught up in a communal crisis.
The second story involves a jaded Boston attorney and his Mumbai based Indian law partner. The longer the Boston attorney stays, the more he and the Indian law partner change.
The final story is about a girl who is backpacking through India when her travel partner leaves her when she meets a boy. The lone traveler heads to an ashram in Bangalore. After a while she needs money, so she goes to work for a IT company teaching english, sland, and accents.
Each story reveals the potential danger of losing oneself in a foreign land. Theroux is an excellent story teller with a keen eye for detail and attention. This is well worth reading.

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