The Wink: A Novel of Modern India

Evelyn Harter, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-312-88233-4
One of the characters in Harter's warm and perceptive second novel resolves to explain India to Westerners. The chasm between the cultures is too wide; he does not succeed. But Harter does, continuing the delicate, bicultural balancing act begun in Bosom of the Family. Leland Holt is an ambitious but fundamentally decent young executive who comes to Ramapat, India, to consummate a deal by his packaging firm to buy Lotus Labels, a family-owned company run by Ram Rao. Proud but kindhearted Ram, who represents traditional India in his reverence for family, is hard-pressed to raise the dowry for his daughter's wedding. He needs the cash the merger will bring, but dreads heeding Holt's demand that he fire his uncle and brother, both principals in the firm. This would be a devastating act in a culture where nepotism is not a sin but a duty and an honor. Meanwhile, Holt's wife, Andria, is profoundly disquieted by the poverty she encounters. She becomes obsessed by a beggar who seems to wink at her one day, and when he dies, she undergoes a semi-mystical experience and is inspired to devote her life to working in India's squalid slums. Harter weaves these strands into a delicate, subtle story rich with atmospheric, religious and philosophical detail. All of the characters undergo watershed experiences that give themand the readera bittersweet recognition of life's realities. (October 20)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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