Book review: The tailor’s daughter

January 4, 2009

Title: The tailor’s daughter : A novel
Author: Ben Antao
Pages: 343

The tailor’s daughter is the story of Eliza Rodricks, a young teenage girl from Nairobi who visits her native state of Goa, India in order to study tailoring. Eliza, the daughter of two tailors (a supposedly “low caste” family) was born and brought up in Nairobi. 

While in Goa she is seduced by an upper-caste bhatkar (a big landowner – something like a feudal lord) called Jorge. In those days (and some might argue, now as well) it was highly unusual for a person of Jorge’s status to associate with a tailor. Eliza (whose parents were victims of caste discrimination) is proud of her relationship with Jorge and is convinced that she can tame her vagabond boyfriend into marrying her. 

I found The tailor’s daughter remarkable not for its descriptions of casteism in India (which was poorly done) but rather for its vivid descriptions of intimate scenes, something that is rare in Goan books.


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