The Three Of Us
By Abha Dawesar
Pages: 253; Rs 250
The first visceral reaction of most readers to Abha Dawesar’s The Three of Us
will be to its taut, intense and provocative sexuality. This is a novel about gender identities and orientations, a priapic comedy about sexual choice and responsibility. First-time novelist Dawesar traces the rites of passage of Andre Bernard through the jungle of urban America. A menage a trois
compounded of Andre’s boss Nathan and his wife Sybil multiplies with mathematical precision to include the maternal Martha and Andre’s ex Madhu. Andre is screwing the wife of the man he loves, while Martha is pregnant with his child and Madhu is adjusting to her arranged marriage with Srini. In an age when attraction is about pheromones, sexual happiness about serotonin, Andre longs to believe love is about the soul. This pattern of stylised seduction perambulates the social and ethical dilemmas of alternative sexuality with candour. However, there is another important dimension to Dawesar’s debut novel: it represents a turnabout in self-perception in terms of ethnic and sexual identity. The stereotyped identikits of immigrant fiction suffer a radical reinterpretation. The Three of Us
demonstrates an acculturation into mainstream American society, an acclimatisation into style and idiom, to the extent that Andre’s girlfriend Madhu emerges as the most unidimensional character. This engaging novel, unselfconscious of barriers, definitions and changing boundaries, is a coming-of-age of Indian diaspora writers.