Book Review: The Obscure Logic of the Heart by Priya Basil
August 30, 2011 7 Comments
This was the second book I read for the Transworld Group Reading Challenge. The topic sounded very interesting to me: do you choose love above religion when it comes to finding a partner?
Also, the main characters were Indians living in England and in Kenia, which I found intriguing.
The Obscure Logic of the Heart: What it is about
When Anil, a Kenian of Indian descent, meets Lina, who is English from Indian descent, he pursues her until she gives in and becomes his girlfriend.
But there is a problem, Lina is of Muslim faith and her parents expect her to marry a man that they will introduce to her. Anil, on the other hand, has no faith but his parents are Sikhs.
Lina is prepared to go far to keep her parents ignorant of the illicit relationship with Anil, forcing other people to do the same, even when they feel very uncomfortable about it. But eventually, she will need to make a choice.
Besides the love affair, the book touches on topics such as religion, illegal arms trade, refugee camps, rich versus modest living, friendship, corruption, etc.
The Obscure Logic of the Heart: What I thought
The further I got with this book, the more I wanted to keep reading. The beginning was a bit so-so for me, and in hind-sight, I don’t know how necessary that chapter was.
It’s a kind of prelude in which Anil and Lina meet up in a café. I found this somewhat confusing and to me, it wasn’t clear what was the now and what were flashbacks to the past. After a few chapters I started to get into the story and found it very enjoyable.
It was a story that elicited emotions. Not tears or happiness, but a kind of irritation with Lina: I thought it wasn’t right how she kept making promises to Anil and at the same time not want to confront her family with her relationship, keeping all her options open.
It also made me think whether Lina should risk her parents’ ostracising her for ever. The book was very good at making me look at the issue from Lina’s (Muslim) viewpoint.
The book wasn’t overly full of religion. And in the end, you could argue it wasn’t so much religion, but instead, Lina’s parents’ strict adherence to their religion that caused Anil and Lina’s relationship to be under so much strain.
A very good read.
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got this book: from Transworld Publishers (Black Swan) in their Group Reading Challenge
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 512
First published: 2010
Genre: contemporary fiction, literary fiction