Night Jasmine Tree, Debu Majumdar’s latest novel, is about the hidden backstory of an Indian man’s immigration to the U.S.—a story of one man’s rebellion against conservative caste barriers, sacrifice, loss, suffering, and finally rising and becoming a better man.
Shankar, now a retired college professor in New York, was raised in a conservative Hindu family but fell in love with a lower caste girl in college and that love forced them to leave India. He vowed to forget the family that rejected him and never return. All his life he hides his past story – not even telling his own son. In his retirement, however, as he charms his grandchildren with stories from his childhood, his suppressed feelings of sadness, anger, and dismay bubble up. He regrets his betrayal of his family and forsaking all his responsibilities. His sense of bewilderment and suffering increases. The novel is about how he was finally able to come to a resolution.
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Night Jasmine Tree has won the 2018 Somerset award in the contemporary, literary and satire category. See their award review.