YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN Paperback – 17 September 2019
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Biswas's masterful You Beneath Your Skin is an intelligent page-turner that mixes a thrilling murder case with a profound psychological and sociological study of contemporary India.' -- David Corbett, award-winning author of The Art of Character
An indubitably disturbing novel that holds up an ugly mirror to a deeply entrenched misogyny in Indian society. -Scroll.in
'With characters that evoke dislike, sympathy, hope at various stages, this book is simply un-put-down-able for thriller readers.'-- Financial Express
"a crime thriller layered with issues of poverty, misogyny and corruption."
-- The Hindu.
'The book, though a crime thriller in both pace and narrative form, portrays authentic accounts of poverty, gender discrimination and corruption.' - New Indian Express
'...a gripping tale of fractured relationships, unhealed wounds, psychological manipulation and corruption in the system, the power corridors of "Rajdhani" and families alike.'- Asian Age
'Flaws make up the crux of Damyanti Biswas' debut novel You Beneath Your Skin, a crime novel that delves deep into a dirty and realistic world of misogyny, corruption, poverty and violence.' - The Wire
'...a multi-faceted metaphor of dark and distressing themes, with characters that you cannot help but identify with.' - Women's Web
About the Author
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- Item Weight : 450 g
- Paperback : 392 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9386797623
- ISBN-13 : 978-9386797629
- Product Dimensions : 20 x 14 x 4 cm
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster India (17 September 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #12,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Do we really know our loved ones? Are ever really sure that the face we see each day, cherish, nurture and love each day is not a facade?
Damyanti shatters a lot of assumptions in her book You Beneath Your Skin. It is not just a thriller trying to figure out the dark underbelly of Delhi but also the privileged criminals. The ones, who are whisked away under the garb of being too young, too rich, too powerful or just being born into privilege.
Anjali is trying to find the mother for a young girl, hoping to keep the siblings safe until the mother is found. A kind soul with enough problems of her own yet she puts in that extra bit to ensure the ones less fortunate have a chance.
Jatin the cop who tries to keep his path as clear as possible but as they say that if you work in the coalmines, you will catch the sooth. So does he, but what I found both predictable and relevant was how the crime follows him home.
For the longest time, I felt his wife was the greyest character in the story but there were surprises till the last page. The belligerent son, the self-absorbed father or the slick politician; or could it be the silly social worker- the suspects were many. The initial story about the love affair and the gruesome acid-induced murders felt a bit obvious considering it was Delhi and its crimes of passion but the story picked up with the unrelenting twists soon enough. Damyanti manages to tie all the ends, unravel all the knots and remind us that nothing is as it seems!
Well written and twisted with a balanced dose of reality, You Beneath Your Skin is an interesting story. The title is so perfect!!
You Beneath Your Skin is a crime-thriller that follows the lives of Anjali and Jatin. As the victims pile up, both of them are pulled in the murky business of drugs, poverty and corruption. I was up all night reading the book trying to find out if Anjali would fall into this corrupt void or is it Jatin who takes the fall.
The killers, the politicians, or the boys; who are the key players? Why is a simple, supportive, honest, kind woman being dragged into this mess? Can saving a life mean giving up your own? Or is it a loved one who doesn’t love you anymore? All these questions kept me reading no-stop.
You Beneath Your Skin is a pager-turner, emotional, heart-wrenching story with excellent writing. The author has portrayed a vivid picture of the dark underbelly of crimes against women, children and how innocents are sacrificed.
A book with a message, of not just love, acceptance but also of never giving up on yourself and your loved ones.
The book will tug at your heartstrings not just for the innocent in peril but also the subtle instances of love and emotions. The tiny gestures of love and endearment between Anjali and Jatin. The sweet and solid mother and son understanding. The brother who is a tough guy but a softy for his sister. I especially loved the subtle story arc of Pawan and Maya, keep an eye out for them and the simple yet powerful declaration by Pawan that made me a fan!
The most important reason I loved the book is the voice it gives to the innocent, voiceless victims. The mothers who are abused, killed and forgotten. The little girls who are sold, used as puppets, while their family is thankful for a member who can earn, no matter how! The author proceeds of You Beneath Your Skin go to the Project Why and Acid Attacks Victims. This makes it even more relevant since not only does the author talk about them in her book but also shows the misery they face.
You must read You Beneath Your Skin not just to know who you and your loved ones really are but to understand that no one truly knows anyone perfectly.
Gritty, edgy yet subtle, Damyanti’s writing will keep you awake!
Damyanti Biswas is a natural, bringing vividly to life the characters in 'You Beneath Your Skin'. This is a very well-written, poignant story that delves into a murky world where crime, corruption, and power games run rampant. The story begins promisingly and becomes increasingly gripping as the plot develops into a rollercoaster ride of surprising twists and dark turns. The author slides beneath the skin of her characters with amazing dexterity, breathing life into them with all their distinct personalities, emotions, strengths, failings, to present a compelling tale that explores the best and worst of humanity, meshing love and malevolence, bleakness and hope. A stellar debut indeed!
The description of the characters were so vivid, that I had tears in my eyes, at the difficult turns. After a long time, a book made me cry ( much to my husband's amusement).
Several times, while reading, I could not bear to go on. Yes that happens with me at times. Last time I remember, it was while reading 'And the mountains echoed', when Parwana leaves Masooma in the middle of no where. I felt a similar heartbreak when Anjali got hurt.
The thing about this book is, even though it's a work of fiction, you feel the pain of the characters and you can connect with their reactions. Yes, the ending was definitely not what I wanted it to be, but it was way more realistic than I anticipated.
Highly recommend for anyone who wants to spend the next few days ( or hours If you can manage continuous reading), tethered to your seat, unwilling to leave the book aside.
Top reviews from other countries
The heart of this story, though, isn't the politics or the crime or the misadventures in love, though all these provide an entertaining though heart wrenching background. It's the poor women trapped in poverty who are subjected to one of the most cruel and debilitating attacks of all--acid attacks. Damyanti brings sympathy to the women caught in this plight through no fault of their own. The fault lies squarely with the men who hold women's lives to no value. In that aspect, this novel is a little sordid--there's no escaping the dirt and squalor, or the horrible crimes of rape and mutilation in this novel.
I love Damyanti's code switching, the way she brings out the different accents of her characters in their Indian English alongside their use of Hindi phrases. I tend to skim over the longer phrases (some of which may or may not be Urdu poetry?), but I'm sure those who speak Hindi and Urdu would appreciate it. She deftly includes translations, and the repetition of certain key phrases is also very helpful.
All in all, You Beneath Your Skin is a thrilling read, full of surprising twists and turns.
If one were to rely solely on the Amazon book description, a reader might be drawn into thinking the central premise of the book is a series of brutal attacks and murders of vulnerable women, and the subsequent efforts to bring those responsible to justice. Really though, 'You Beneath Your Skin' is so much more than a simple detective or police investigation; yes, the brutal attacks/murders, i.e. drugging women before raping/murdering them, and/or throwing acid in their faces form an integral part of the story, but it's far from being what the book is really about. Whereas in a more, say, 'traditional' crime and murder story, such violence would be at its heart, perhaps for its shock value or to emphasise the need for a resolution to the crimes. In truth, the actual violence here is little more than a backdrop to the rich characterisation of everyone involved, and of the lives and society in which the multiple storylines take place; if anything, the real violence here, and indeed tragedy, is that fact that the murders and attacks are downplayed to some extent, a reflection of the equal or even great horror that such acid attacks and the like are so commonplace they've become an accepted part of Indian culture/society in much the same way mass shootings in America or European terrorist attacks no longer shock or surprise us they way they once did.
The writing is executed to perfection, with every character vividly brought to life through their likes and prejudices, their interactions with each other, their place in Indian society, and in way too many other subtle ways to mention in a single review. I was pleased to see the author in no way tried to pander or adapt her writing to accommodate the expectations of a western or European audience, which in my opinion makes for a better reading experience for anyone who reads this book. Having said that, some of the dialogue does, albeit only occasionally, switch to Hindi, which as a European reader, I obviously skimmed past. Also, it will take some readers a little while to get used to some of the Indian conventions of speech and dialogue, i.e. of people being addressed in different ways, and by different names/titles depending on the relationship between whose speaking (some parallels can be found in German, in the way you might address a child or someone you know personally or only a little).
It's still difficult for me to appreciate this a debut novel rather than maybe the umpteenth from a well-established and best-selling author. As well as being a well-crafted tale of the most horrific crimes, their investigation, and a somewhat cynical conclusion, it's also a brutally honest and illuminating look at and commentary on Indian society, both good and bad. Captivating, enthralling, and a real page-turner - a superb work of crime and social literature!
The storyline twists around an investigation into what appears to be serial murders of faceless women. That’s literally faceless; their features have been obliterated with sulphuric acid. The one found in the jurisdiction of Jatin is traced to a local slum. Those of you who have read about life in such slums can imagine the filth and the poverty all too well.
You Beneath Your Skin has an incredibly twisted plot that covers many levels of Indian society and the problems each character has in staying one step ahead of their own ruin. The writing is rich and powerful even when talking about the poor and powerless.
There are themes which many will find hard to stomach, but you will find an unforgettable reading experience between these pages.
The opening is excellent and hooked me from the beginning both in the hunt for the lost son, Nikhil, and the demands of city life, both family and external pressures already playing off each other here as they continue to do through the book. The tension drew me in and I loved all the different threads intertwining through the novel, skillfully brought together as it progressed each informing the other; always a satisfying element of a read for me. Family tensions, relationships, political corruption, brutal crime, women’s and men’s roles in society...all important, universal issues deftly handled.
I really enjoyed the setting and sense of place too, feeling immersed in the culture, which enriched the narrative for me. I loved the use of different languages showing the diverse range of cultural communities in the country and learnt about certain customs and social mores which really brought the characters alive for me.
A page-turning, living, breathing picture of life in and around New Delhi with a nail-biting plot..I couldn’t put it down...and I don’t usually read crime fiction! The ending is spot on too. A fab debut – this writer is definitely one to watch.