Review of The Dream Builders by Oindrila Mukherjee
I love a novel set in India, and the details of the sparkling promise and darker underpinnings of the city of Hrishipur were a standout in Mukherjee's debut novel of interconnected points of view, fortune, and tragedy.
Maneka Roy has temporarily returned to India after six years teaching creative writing in the American Midwest. Her mother has died, and her father and friends have moved from Calcutta to Hrishipur, a booming city full of malls and the promise that all will be newer, bigger, shinier, and better. She struggles to reconcile her past and her memories with the present, the shallow facades with the gritty underpinnings.
Mukherjee shapes The Dream Builders by telling the stories from ten different characters, interconnected but varied in class, power, wealth, experience, and hope for the future.
The building of a seven-tower Trump property in Hrishipur comes into play in various ways, as poor workers toil on the construction while other local developers fall into obscurity and those wealthy enough to invest in the venture cling to what they perceive as the promise of the height of luxury to come.
Characters shift from upstanding to suspect, from envied to emotionally wrecked, from without hope to buoyed by promise--and in some cases, their situations and fortunes are reversed yet again.
The interconnectedness was interesting. The intellectual who has spent time in the United States is unversed in the current workings of the city where her father and schoolmates live. The savvy poor work the system the only way available to them. Those who seem without hope fight and claw for a chance, while those who seem to have it all fall to pieces. Mukherjee's The Dream Builders doesn't pretend that neatly wrapped-up loose ends are always possible, and tragedies occur that affect various characters.
I felt that some of the more animated female characters sounded like caricatures and almost anime-style in the tones of their flighty exclamations and pronouncements, and I found these instances distracting.
I listened to an audiobook edition of this title, which I received courtesy of Libro.fm and Blackstone Publishing as part of the Libro.fm ALC program.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
I'm intrigued by novels with an Indian setting.
This is Oindrila Mukherjee's debut novel.