Sleeping on Jupiter is one of the novels nomitated for the Man Booker Prize; it did not get past the Long List. It obviously fulfilled the never mentioned demand of the jury for something terrible to occur. In this case the abuse of young girls by a world famous guru in an Indian ashram. A serious theme that Roy packed into a short novel with a multitude of characters. Characters that made me wonder more and more whether they contributed anything to the plot. By merely asking the question it becomes apparent that the presence of some characters is debatable. Though I can understand Roy introducing them, they are the triggers that make things happen in the main characters life, I can also see that their actions distract us from the central character, Nomi, and the plot of Sleeping on Jupiter.
Nomi is a young woman who after many years returns to her home country India. Her family was murdered there when she was a mere child. Nomi was taken into an ashram and was abused time and time again by the ashram’s guru. After her escape from the ashram, which gives her no choice but to leave behind her best friend, she is adopted by a Norwegian woman. Nomi’s past and her guilt have always prevented her from really relating to her adoptive mother. Roy has chosen to hide this plot in several subplots: about the cruelty of the cameraman working with Nomi, about the lonely life of the guide working in a temple, about the three old women Nomi happens to meet, about the boy the guide is in love with and the man who sells chai on the beach. I am afraid Sleeping on Jupiter would have turned out better if Roy had restricted not so much the number of characters as the elaboration of their personalities. They are all part of an action-reaction chain that leads to revelations about Nomi’s past. That chain would have worked as well if Roy had chosen to elaborate on one or two characters only apart from Nomi. The mere fact that I see them as parts of a chain makes it clear that Roy did not make the presence of those characters convincing enough. The action-reaction chain could have been accomplished differently, focusing on Nomi. I did not mind reading Sleeping on Jupiter, it’s nice though average. Not one to avoid, not one you absolutely need to read.