Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
This week is my birthday – a new year, and a fresh start! That got me thinking about rebirth and reinvention. And so this week, my selection is one of my favourite novels to examine that theme: Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee.
Jasmine is narrated by a young woman who sets out from her life in Punjab, India after being suddenly widowed, following her through a turbulent journey to a new life in the United States. Eventually, Jasmine finds herself in the unlikely location of Iowa, married to a much older man and with an adoptive son of Vietnamese descent.
Our narrator is known by a number different names over the course of her story, with a new moniker at each pivotal moment of her life – from ‘Jyoti’ in her village as a child, to the Anglicised ‘Jane’ in middle America. But in exploring how Jasmine assures her own survival through necessary assimilation and adaptation of her own identity, Mukherjee weaves a stunning tale of the invention of self. At the very beginning of the story, Jasmine is told by an astrologer that she’ll be a widow in exile. But by its conclusion, she whispers, “Watch me reposition the stars.” A beautiful aspiration, I hope you’ll agree, especially each time you reach for a new stage of life. And that is why Jasmine by Bharati Mukerjee, is my Book of the Week this week.