Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dar es Salam - Tara Kai



Blurb on the back: Set against the "dirt and red-wine" color of East Africa, "Dar es Salaam" is the story of the emotional awakening of a precocious 14-year-old English girl, Tatum, while on vacation with her family in Tanzania. Her story interweaves the heat and sensuousness of Africa into her own growing inner world--one of painful memories of divorce, abuse, and erotic fantasies. This is the story of the emotional awakening of a perceptive and precocious 14-year-old English girl, Tatum, while on vacation with her family in Tanzania.

My Verdict: Personally, I found Tatum quite an annoying narrator. The author tried really hard to make her seem precocious and obsessive in a child-like way but she only ended up seeming manipulative and scheming. Her persistent efforts to seduce Mohammed, a friend of her stepfather's and hence "discovering her sexuality" makes the core of the novel but it was too blatant for my tastes. There is no suspence and very little romance. The writing was impressive, especially considering its a debut novel but that's unfortunately is its only saving grace.

I picked up the book because I have been to Dar-es-Salam once in my life and found the place quite ethereal (and Klimt's "The Kiss" on the cover also helped a bit). I just had a day to spend there and it ended up on my list of favourite places in the world. I thought this book would give me more insight into the life and happenings of a magical place I once visited. But much to my dismay, Tanzania isn't pictured in the book as much as the blurb paints it. The story could have been set in any other place without the slightest change.

Rating: 3/5

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