The Zigzag Way by Anita Desai : a Review & Synopsis

Once again Anita Desai depicts her mastery over the words and craftsmanship. The novel is clearly imbued with vivid details and minute description of the scenes. She has portrayed the scenic atmosphere of Mexico in such a detail that we can actually imagine the place in front of our eyes. Past is woven skilfully with the present and the readers can move freely in this temporal setting.

The story unfolds the journey of Eric, an American, who travels to Mexico with his girlfriend Em, as the latter has to do her research in Mexican forests. But, as seemed uninvited, Eric embarks upon his own journey which is somewhat aimed at finding his roots in that foreign country. Knowing only that, his father was born here, and that his grandfather used to work in the silver mines over here, he sets up to trace the signs of his ancestry.

In this course, he comes across Dona Vera, a wealthy queen, who runs a learning centre for huichol Indians. However, it does not provide him with any clue regarding his grandparents. Then he travels to a cathedral, where he is sent by the owner of the inn where he had stayed for a night after returning back from Dona Vera.

Eric picks up a bouquet to make an offering to his grandma’s grave. However he can’t find her grave for the whole day. In the end, his grandma’s ghost itself leads him to her grave. This provides a stop to the journey he had set upon.

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