In her second novel, Portrait of Mira, Susham Bedi returns to the theme of her first novel. The Fire Sacrifice problems faced by Indians who have left their homeland to settle in New York. But in Portrait of Mira one woman occupies the center stage throughout; furthermore, her social and economic status is upper-class and only towards the end of the novel do financial problems occur. Mira, an accomplished Indian classical dancer; is torn between her dance and her conventional, unfulfilling marriage. As she explores new ways of survival, nothing satisfies her and her heart revolts.
She is a rebel, fiercly independent, unwilling to accept the conventions of either Indian or American society, critical both of others and herself. The radicalism of her actions will be apparent to those who are familiar with the strictly defined role of the traditional Indian wife. But in her candid quest for the fulfilment of her personal desires and artistic ambitions, she is also capable of generosity and compassion.
Mira, the protagonist of the novel, lives at a level of feelings, where, in spite of repeatedly moving further, she helplessly returns to the same invisible spot.
An interior dialogue's intimacy and closeness is intertwined into the entire novel. This novel. through introspection of a recurring but fleeting
state of mind in an absolutely alien environment, cuts through the layers of a sensitive mind and helps understand the conflicts and dilemmas of an immigrant exist.
Dr. Susham Bedi is a professor in Discipline of Hindi language and literature at Columbia University and the Hindi-Urdu Language Program Coordinator. Her interests are as varied as her background. Being a native of India, Dr. Bedi understands the culture and politics of India on a personal level.
She is a leading Indian author of novels and short stories, writing in Hindi and living in the United States. Her novel Haven (1989) was translated into English and published under the title The Fire Sacrifice in 1993 and reprinted in 2006. Her another novel Lautna is also translated into English and published under the title Portrait of Mira in 2006.
Dr. Bedi's research concentrates on Indian theatre but she has also been involved in pedagogical research and has developed authentic reading and listening comprehension materials in Hindi. A few of her publications include "Quest for Identity: Grappling for the Literary Self in the Diaspora" and 'Two Sides of a Coin: Linguistic and Cultural Aspects of a Language". Besides, She has published seven novels, two short story collections and a poetry
collection in Hindi. Her works have been heavily anthologized and translated into various Indian and European languages.
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