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February 23, 1992|Charles Solomon

THE TIGER'S DAUGHTER by Bharati Mukherjee (Fawcett: $5.99). In her first novel, the National Book Critics' Circle Award-winning author begins to examine the clash between contemporary Western mores and traditional Indian culture she explores in her later work. The daughter of a wealthy Brahmin merchant, Tara Banerjee returns to her native Calcutta to visit her extended family after completing her education in the United States and marrying an American man. As soon as she arrives in Calcutta, Tara discovers that although she dreamed of India in America, the reality of India no longer satisfies her. She sees the squalor and oppression that lie beyond the gracious rooms and manicured lawns of her parents' estate, and finds she cannot abide the otiose, supercilious adults that her childhood friends have become. Although she can no longer assume the traditional role of an Indian woman, Tara realizes that her ties to her past prevent her from becoming completely Americanized. Neither Tara nor Mukherjee manage to achieve the radiant fusion of East and West, old and new, that lit "Jasmine," but the search for an acceptable balance makes highly satisfying reading.

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