DIVINE MUSIC

Suruchi Mohan

Spiritual and sensuous, divine and carnal, decay and regeneration. Sarika discovers this blend through her journey in the world of music. Life is not a simple black and white but a mix of the dichotomous. Music offers a unique lens through which to look at relationships: the guru-pupil, husband-wife, parent-child, artist-world. Each relationship brings its own complexities to an already complex world that goes on through each death into rebirth.

Divine Music is a sensitive look at the world of music, a microcosm of Indian society. The novel reaffirms our faith in life and in the ability of humans to go on living after a catastrophe.

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Spiritual and sensuous, divine and carnal, decay and regeneration. Sarika discovers this blend through her journey in the world of music. Life is not a simple black and white but a mix of the dichotomous. Music offers a unique lens through which to look at relationships: the guru-pupil, husband-wife, parent-child, artist-world. Each relationship brings its own complexities to an already complex world that goes on through each death into rebirth.

Divine Music is a sensitive look at the world of music, a microcosm of Indian society. The novel reaffirms our faith in life and in the ability of humans to go on living after a catastrophe.

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  • Bayeux Arts Inc.
  • Paperback
  • September 2009
  • 241 Pages
  • 9781897411063

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$19.95

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About Suruchi Mohan

A native of India, Suruchi Mohan is a journalist who covered high-tech and business news for McGraw Hill and International Data Group publications through the nineties. Her nonfiction has appeared in San Jose Mercury News, Reader’s Digest, Sacred Fire, and numerous other publications. Divine Music is her first work of fiction. Mohan lives in Northern California with her family.

Praise

“…this accessible, engrossing first novel offers an unusual blend of social commentary, coming-of-age themes, and a love for sacred Indian music.”—Booklist Online

“Mohan’s impressive debut explores…a rich multi-generational portrait of a changing cultural and political landscape riddled with new opportunity as well as age-old opportunism.”—Publishers Weekly Web Exclusive

“In her richly textured debut novel, Suruchi Mohan opens our eyes to the intricate world of North Indian classical music….Steeped in the culture and traditions of India, Divine Music is a captivating read.”Gail Tsukiyama, bestselling author of The Street of a Thousand Blossoms and Dreaming Water

Discussion Questions

The novel is a coming of age story of Sarika, a talented young girl who is seduced by her music teacher.  Sarika suspects her story is common in the world of music and dance.  What do you think? 

The flour-tin lady cautions Sarika about older men: “They disarm you with their caring and then disrobe you….The fire of social condemnation burns the woman while the man goes scot-free.” (page 13)  How do Mr. Sinha and Kirana “disarm” Swati and Sarika with their caring?  Do the men go scot-free?  What happens to the women? 

What makes Sarika visit Kirana at his home?  To what extent do you hold her responsible for what happens to her?

What impression do you have of Kirana as Sarika’s teacher?  Is he a sympathetic character or a predator?

Mrs. Sinha is an interesting character throughout the novel.  As the story of Mr. Sinha unfolds, are you able to empathize with her? 

Sarika’s cousin Nisha dreams of a romance like “Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy” but ends up in an arranged marriage.  How does it work out for her?  Do you know anyone who has had an arranged marriage?  When falling in love happens after getting married, can the love become just as deep? 

Kirana tells Sarika to “learn to love the notes in [her] music like a man loves a woman” (page 119).  Is he trying to seduce her or improve her music by cultivating more emotion in her singing?  What impact do you think his words and attitude have on her?  What part does the music play in Sarika’s attraction for Kirana? 

In Divine Music, the carnal (sensuous) and the divine aspects of classical Indian music and the world of musicians are explored throughout the book.  Do you feel that the pursuit of music could be divine?  In what way?  In the Prologue, the grown-up Sarika has come to understand that the boundaries between the carnal and the divine may not be black and white.  What do you think?  Is it important that there be a clear line between the carnal and the divine? 

Kirana tells Sarika that she has to “think about the image you project” (page 157).  Kirana’s actions are strongly governed by the image he wants to project. For example, he feels that teaching Sarika makes him look good because her father is a senior government bureaucrat.  Do you feel image consciousness, as portrayed in the book, is peculiar to Indian culture or more universal? 

The novel is enriched by many side characters with their own stories.  These stories together give a rich picture of the social values in India regarding the place of women during the 1970s.  Are you able to relate to the restrictions placed on women, and the way they are treated?  Which character and story resonates the most with you? 

Sarika’s pregnancy and abortion are pivotal events in her life, likely to make an arranged marriage much more difficult for her.  Do you think it might have also freed her to follow a career in music which might otherwise have been frowned upon by her parents as not being “respectable” enough?