The Pleasure Seekers: A Novel

The Pleasure Seekers - Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi’s debut opens with Prem Kumar Patel, 47 years old, and his wife, Trishala, sending off their oldest son, Babo, to England, with three younger children remaining at home. The novel begins with a voyage and contains many more.

At the time, the family is “completely innocent of the tumultuous changes [Babo’s] departure was going to bring upon them all”, but the departure is just one catalyst for change in this family saga.

The Pleasure Seekers contains countless emotional and geographical transformations, shifting from Sylvan Lodge in Madras to London (with stopovers and detours), from childhood to adulthood, from young lover and friend to committed spouse and parent.

Throughout these journeys, another reader might be more enamoured than I with her use of language, for Tishani Doshi has made an effort to develop a distinct cast to her storyteller’s tone.

Nonetheless, the language alone did not draw me in the way that the poetic prose of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss captured me as a reader.

Throughout The Pleasure Seekers, I was a reader on the margins. Tishani Doshi did create a space for me as an explorer; I could have settled into these new territories alongside the character(s) who are equally unfamiliar with this landscape and culture. But, instead, I followed this story with interest, but without a passion for its inhabitants.

Perhaps I require a more insistent tone. Perhaps I’ve become lazy in the wake of the sophistication and intensity of other family sagas, like Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy.

Perhaps the blurb and the buzz raised my reader’s expectations too high, but I wanted to be captivated and delighted like Salman Rushdie said that he was.