From Where the Rivers Come was published in 2009 by Terin Tashi Miller. It is the story of a journalist, John Colson, living in India at the center of a clash between two cultures that occurs when an Indian woman tries to inhabit both her own world and that of her Western friends.
The book begins in Benares as a funeral procession moves down the river, follows John Colson to Dehli through the Hindi festival of Diwali and a winter holiday, and returns to Benares. Along the way the sights, tastes, smells, and sounds of life in India are infused in the scenes of a group of young, struggling men and women.
I was very impressed by this novel. It was a tragedy, and the baseness of some of its characters was disturbing, but the writing was superb. I’m trying to suppress my enthusiasm, but I can’t help but compare Mr. Miller’s writing to that of Ernest Hemingway. I got lost in this book the way I did in The Sun Also Rises. Miller’s portrayal of Westerners abroad, and their judgments and misunderstanding of other cultures was well illustrated.
Hemingway wrote under the “iceberg principle”–only tell ten percent of what’s going on. Allow the rest to loom beneath the surface. Miller follows the same principle, and does it effectively. I look forward to reading more work by him.
(Due to new regulations on blogs, I must disclose that I was given a free copy of this book.)