Desai's first novel is a wild, sad, humorous story about the oldest son of an eccentric family in a small Indian village. Born at the moment a crash of thunder signals the end of a long, hot drought, Sampath grows into a disappointing young man. After he loses a job, Sampath's mother attempts to comfort him with a guava, but it explodes as Sampath is admiring its green coolness, compelling him to flee his family and village to an abandoned orchard, climb into a guava tree, and stay there. He quickly becomes known as the tree baba. The rest of the family moves to the orchard with Sampath's ambitious father, who is determined to exploit the economic possibilities of the newly proclaimed baba. Desai's novel is full of wonderfully portrayed characters and beautifully vivid descriptions of animals, plant life, and the dusty environs of the village. An unqualified pleasure to read, this novel is highly recommended for all libraries.‘Rebecca A. Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA
YA-This delightful romp is full of zany characters that wreak havoc on a village in India. Sampath, the ambitionless son of the middle-class Chawla family, wants to escape the looming responsibilities of his adult life. He decides to climb into a guava tree and live there in peaceful contemplation. The townspeople start to revere him as a holy man and seek his counsel for their problems. His enigmatic responses only increase their awe for him. His father reacts by looking at the commercial possibilities of having many pilgrims coming to see Sampath. His mother spends her days searching the countryside for rare and unusual food to prepare for him. His sister struggles to maintain her independence but falls hopelessly in love with the Hungry Hop Ice Cream boy. Inept bureaucrats, bungling army officers, a spy for the atheist society, and a herd of monkeys with a taste for liquor add to this hilariously irreverent story. With humor that transcends cultures, this funny story about a very eccentric family will appeal to many teens.-Penny Stevens, Centreville Regional Library, Centreville, VA
"Enchanting--A meticulously crafted piece of gently comic satire that attests to the author's pitch-perfect ear for character and mood, and her natural storytelling gifts."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "Clearly envisioned and opulently told."--"Chicago Tribune" "Delectable--With this sprightly first novel, Kiran Desai takes her place among the pack of gifted young Indian writers."--"The Wall Street Journal" "Crackling, witty, sharply visual prose--[Desai] is a delightfully funny, amiable satirist."--"Atlantic Monthly" "A festival of comic eccentricity--exudes charisma, poetry, and joy in language and life."--"Baltimore Sun" "A charming, lyrical fable about destiny and the nature of kinship."--"Harper's Bazaar" "Wryly hilarious--a roller-coaster ride through the nonsense of chance and human foolishness."--"Portland Oregonian"