July 8, 2011 10:07 pm

The Obscure Logic of the Heart

The Obscure Logic of the Heart, by Priya Basil, Black Swan, RRP£17.99, 506 pages

From a slow start of amorous reminiscences, in which prosperous architect Anil ponders how his beloved Lina has always kept him waiting, Basil’s second novel gradually unfurls into a rich saga of tangled relationships and strained loyalties, punctuated by a sequence of seemingly tangential 1960s love letters.

Anil’s family, secular Sikhs enmeshed in the corrupt power of the Kenyan government, disapprove of his choice; Lina’s family, Indian Muslims living in England, consider the match scandalous and shameful. The Obscure Logic of the Heart is strongly focused on familial obedience and the duty parents expect from their children, which, surprisingly, doesn’t affect the accelerating pace of Basil’s intercultural romance.

Themes of religious difference, the nature of friendship and the boundaries of control add complexity to a set of attractively flawed characters. Basil’s novel is subtly played out; passionate and intelligent in scope.

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