The sensual image of The Bark of the Cinnamon Tree is an apt one for this collection of eighteen short stories. Simultaneously warm and severe, wintery yet growing, simple whilst highly stimulating. Ashoka Sen aims to articulate the difficulties and battles that spring from the fertile space where Indian and British cultures meet in her varied anthology, and does so with an acute eye and perceptive talent.
It’s all here.Tradition and legacy is explored in the aptly named Tradition, consumerism and labels in My MG, the place of a woman is the central tenet of The Silver Birch, ethical dilemmas are explored in An Imperfect Baby and April is the Cruellest Month is a pure romantic story. In a world where boundaries can often seem so flexible in theory but become rigid when testing, the communication of the exploration of culture and life is important, particularly when lending a weight to abstract affairs. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes conversational, sometimes contemplative, the anthology blends numerous styles in its attempt to traverse the muddy waters of identity and culture.
Whilst focusing upon British and Indian backgrounds it is made plain that those themes are muddy no matter what your familial roots or current abode, and in making the personal and specific universal Sen has positioned herself in the craft of great fiction.