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Literature Annotation: Nectar in a Sieve
By Kamala Markandaya

Publication Information: New York: Penguin Group, 1954 ISBN 0451168364

Suggested Module/Thematic Use: Religion & Spirituality

Author Biography: Kamala Markandaya is known as a “commonwealth author.” She was born in Bangalore, India in 1924 as a Brahmin (the highest caste of traditional Hindu society), but at the age of 24, she moved to England. While she has lived her entire adult life in England she has visited India frequently.

Summary: Nectar in a Sieve is the story of an Indian woman’s life from her marriage and the start of her own family while still at a young age to the eviction from her land and the death of her husband. Although her situation often seems hopeless, her spirit remains positive allowing her to rise above her poverty, the oppression of the English, and the solitude she deals with as her family leaves home for “better” job opportunities.

Target Audience: High School (vocabulary is not challenging; however, underlying ideas require patience and willingness to take on different ways of thinking).

Genre: Fiction

Length: 190 pages

Availability: Paperback

Cost: $5.99

Commentary: An issue that may be of concern in the classroom is that two characters in the novel resort to prostitution in order to avoid starvation. Another sensitive issue is that of adultery; Nathan has an affair with a married neighbor prior to his marriage to Rukmani. Through this affair, Nathan has two children.

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