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From The Asian Reporter, V14, #36 (August 31, 2004), page 16.

Many paths home

The Seduction of Silence

By Bem Le Hunte

HarperSanFrancisco, 2004

Paperback, 403 pages, $14.95

By Polo

Anglo-Indian writer Bem Le Hunte’s first novel, The Seduction of Silence, has the grand historical sweep of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s epic One Hundred Years of Solitude but also the same mythic gravity of the Hindu classic Ramayana. Their convergence is no coincidence; Ms. Le Hunte admits her work is more influenced by Latin-American sources than by writings of Indian lineage. But India comes through. India is patient and persistent and full of possibility — spiritual and pedestrian. "When I’m there," notes the author, "I’m saturated with the colour, smell, and personality of the land and I feel as if absolutely anything could happen."

In short, it is a long-long story; it begins in modern times — in a Spiritualist Church, in the U.K., with the spirit presence of an Indian holy man named Aakash. Then the telling drops back five generations of Aakash descendants to the highlands of Himachal Pradesh where the family history begins.

Aakash won his magnificent property in Prakriti, where the "soil is closer to the Gods, the air purer, the mind clearer," in a cricket match when he was a boy. It wasn’t the strength of his game but the healing in his hands. Aakash cured a hemophiliac boy injured during the game by touching him, impressing the cured kid’s dad who happened to be the Maharaja of Patalia.

To the hill town Prakriti, Aakash brings his practical and strong-willed wife Jyoti Ma; he begins his Ayurvedic herb farm and his holy teachings. These three wellsprings — one maternal, one medicinal, and one spiritual — then set into spin five generations of daughters each generating her own variety of chaos and creativity.

"When I lived my life," Aakash’s spirit says, "I lived amongst mountains. When we reunite, we will live together — you from the plains, you from the cities. We will live in harmony and abundance and we will invite the Gods to come join us." In the end, Aakash’s family finds its way back to his beloved mountains, to India’s magical Himalayas.

Ms. Le Hunte’s writing is occasionally emotionally claustrophobic, but her journey is at all times transpersonally grand. The novel’s family goes from idyllic highlands to grinding poverty to psychedelic London, then back again. Ms. Le Hunte’s vision is inspired, her language is lyrical, and her story’s conclusion is immensely satisfying.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books

  Amazon