Excerpt from Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Desirable Daughters

A Novel

By Bharati Mukherjee

Desirable Daughters
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Feb 2002,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2003,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"I consider myself a student of modern science," Jai Krishna had explained, "and because I am a student of modern science, I cannot reject any theory until I test it." And so far, the tests had all turned out positive. His two older daughters, seven and nine, were successfully married and would soon be moving to their husbands' houses and living as wives, then as mothers. They were placid and obedient daughters who would make loving and obedient wives. Tara Lata, his favorite, would be no exception.

In the wintry bright hour just before twilight blackens Mishtigunj, the decorated bajra from the Lahiri family finally sailed into view. The bride's female relatives stood at the stone bathing-steps leading from the steep bank down to the river as servants prepared to help the groom's party of two hundred disembark. Women began the oo-loo ululation, the almost instrumental, pitched-voice welcome. Two of Jai Krishna's younger brothers supervised the unrolling of mats on the swampy path that connected the private dock and Jai Krishna's two-storied brick house.

The bajra anchored, but none on board rushed to the deck railings to be ceremoniously greeted by the welcoming party of the bride's relatives. The bridegroom's father and uncles had a servant deliver a cruel message in an insulting tone to the bride's father. They would not disembark on Jai Krishna's property for Jai Krishna and his entire clan were carriers of a curse, and that curse, thanks to Jai Krishna's home-destroying, misfortune-showering daughter, had been visited on their sinless son instead of on Jai Krishna's flesh-and-blood. They demanded that Jai Krishna meet them in the sheltered cabin of the bajra.

Jai Krishna ordered the wedding musicians to stop their shenai playing and dhol beating. His women relatives, shocked at the tone in which the servant repeated his master's message to Jai Krishna babu, the renowned Dacca lawyer, had given up their conch shell blowing and their ululating on their own. For several minutes, Jai Krishna stood still on the bathing-steps, trying to conceal at first his bewilderment, then his fury, that the man who was to have full patriarchal authority over his beloved daughter had called her names. Then he heard a bullying voice from inside the cabin yell instructions to the boatmen to pull up anchor.

"They're bargaining for more dowry," muttered one of Jai Krishna's brothers.

"No beggar is as greedy as that Lahiri bastard!" spat another brother.

Two boatmen played at reeling in ropes and readying the bajra to sail back.

Excerpted from Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee. Copyright © 2002 by Bharati Mukherjee. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin
  2.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh

All Discussions

Who Said...

When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.