A quiet, unassuming novel of lyrical charm and infectious humour!
The story could not be simpler. A girl marries and in course of time produces a child. The girl is city bred — her husband, a Sanskrit scholar, who has his heart in a remote village and where he takes her after marriage. That is all.
Young, playful and mischievous Mohini dreams of a husband but her education and upbringing and the ideas of liberal professor father are unacceptable to her Brahmin traditioned grandmother. Marriage for love is discarded, matrimonial advertisements in the newspapers bring only embarrassment, and it is through a fortune teller that a match is made.
Finally charming Mohini is wed and brought to grip with a different reality, a responsibility and a way of life to which she would gladly succumb if only her husband was closer.
The unusual cast of characters include a passionate and romantic snake charmer, and a matriarch whose worship of tradition leads her to amorality.
The book chronicles the evolution of young carefree girl into an emotionally and intellectually mature woman…
‘We see the best of India — the best of any civilization for that matter — in Mohini. We will be lucky if we meet a more appealing heroine this year.’ — New York Times
‘Written in a language as unexpected and graceful as Mohini herself.’ — Saturday Review
‘…The author must be admitted into the company of those who make English literature.’ — Winifred Haythorne in the Socialist Leader
‘A more pleasing and skilful novel about India than this has not reached these western shores in a long time.’ — Book-of-the Month Club News, New York
After a brilliant academic career culminating in doctorate from the University of London, he joined the Indian Foreign Service; he was, however, destined to be a creative writer. “…what helped me most was something within; a feeling not simply acquired… a need for self-expression as strong as the need for food, for sleep.”
In 1970-71 he joined University of Hawaii’s East-West Centre as visiting faculty, and went on to become Walker-Ames Professor at the prestigious University of Washington, Seattle. While teaching in various American universities, Bhattacharya continued with his literary pursuits, and also earned the sobriquet of “culture heir to the East and the West.”
Bhattacharya’s achievement as a novelist lies not only in the choice and handling of themes, narrative technique and art of characterization but also in shaping the English language as a suitable medium to convey Indian sensibilities.
One of the striking features of his novels is the prominence given to women characters/exceptional regard for women. Women are usually presented by him as highly significant if not central characters. They are not inferior to men, even if they happen to live in a male-dominated society.
Music for Mohini’ is outstanding among Bhattacharya’s novels for its charm, warmth and artistic economy.
In recognition of the services he was appointed Consultant, Ministry of Education, New Delhi, and to the Sahitya Akademi Advisory Board.