Socialite Evenings

de Shobha, Author, Shobha De, Author Penguin Books $8.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-14-012267-1
Indian journalist De's distasteful portrait of Bombay high society regales the reader with rich, bored women seeking amorous adventures (usually leading to their own humiliation), self-absorbed (sometimes gay) men who offer their wives material comfort in exchange for an appearance of propriety, false gurus and glamorous parties that end in violence. Narrator Karuna succeeds in escaping from her drab middle-class life into the upper reaches of wealth and celebrity, passing along the way through a loveless marriage, a disastrous extramarital affair, and courtship by a leading Indian film director, and achieving eventual success and a sense of pride as an advertising copywriter and creator of a TV serial. The wealthy woman burdened with a loveless marriage and an empty life who goes out to discover herself may seem cliched to the West, but perhaps not in India. Yet this first novel, with its flat characterizations and graceless prose, fails either to pointedly depict the social dilemma of women like Karuna, or to effectively satirize the vulgarity of Bombay's nouveau Western aspirations and the cultural and moral dislocation that underlie it. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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