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Eating Wasps Hardcover – 24 Sep 2018
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About the Author
Anita Nair is the author of several novels, including The Better Man, Mistress, Idris: Keeper of the Light and Alphabet Soup for Lovers. She has also authored a crime series featuring Inspector Gowda.
Anita’s other books include Malabar Mind, a collection of poems, Goodnight & God Bless, a collection of essays, and six books for children. She has written two plays and the screenplay for the movie adaptation of her novel Lessons in Forgetting, which was part of the Indian Panorama at IFFI 2012 and won the National Film Award in 2013. Her books have been translated into thirty-one languages around the world. She is also the founder of the creative writing and mentorship programme, Anita’s Attic.
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The story starts with the death of Sreelakshmi, an esteemed writer, who has been given the accolade of being Kerala’s Virginia Woolf. Her relationship with Marcose goes downhill and we see glimpses of what it was like and how she drove herself to death. It is through Sreelakshmi’s ghost that we travel through the lives of various women and younger girls and how anomalies in their lives decide their path. Urvashi’s seemingly perfect married life drives her bitter and she leaves her house and starts living in a resort to unwind herself. Megha, the young girl, who is sexually assaulted by a predator, has to live with the trauma. Najma, who has survived the acid attack by her stalker, scrapes through each day but tries not to let her past affect her future and aspires to become something worthwhile in her life. These and many other women in the book are prime examples of how patriarchy demolishes the feminine spirit and tries to replace it with a toxic domination.
What stands out for me in the book is Anita Nair’s writing. She is a conjurer, weaving magic through her words and making the reading experience a beauty altogether. Her writing style is the reason why I felt like I was with the women when their worlds were crashing down. Nair is a brilliant author, no doubt and this book doesn’t fall short in proving that.
What didn’t work out for me was how the book became a little predictable at places and how the enormous number of characters made little sense by the end of the book and I only wish she had stuck to a few and helped us understand more about them.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for great books on feminism written by Indian authors in the contemporary times then Eating Wasps would be a perfect choice.
ALSO RECOMMEND ON THE SAME LINES : WHEN I HIT YOU BY MEENA KANDASAMY, THE HIGH PRIESTESS NEVER MARRIES BY SHARANYA MANIVANNAN, THE POISON OF LOVE BY K. R. MEERA
On the brink of being a feminine laden plot and an horror story, the author took us through the choices the characters make in their lives and how it effected the lives around them and the people associated with them. The story started with a narration by a dead prolific writer, who was dead five decades ago, recipient of the Sahitya Akademy Award, and who ended up as a 'something' in the cupboard stacked up in an old room of a Hotel Near the Nila in the present. The dead writer then narrates how she ended up in the cupboard, and how she looks up the lives of the other people - who came to stay in the resort.
There was some stories in the narration that was as intriguing as possible - the one I lingered on the most is the story of the two Christian sisters - The elder sister filled up of so much hatred in her heart against the younger one, and the younger one enduring all this toxic hatred as she went on with her life.
I felt lost sometimes in between due to the introduction of so much characters (may be perhaps, I was not acquainted with literary works including so much characters) and I felt empty about the other characters when the narration shifted exclusively to the female writer at the end and why she had taken the dramatic step of what happened to her. The other characters were left with no conclusions as with this female writer and I felt I needed some pages for the other characters too. What happened the little girl assaulted by the Military Truck helper, what happened to the Muslim girl when she conjured courage to show her acid-attacked face to the world and decided never to hide it, and the autistic man of thirty eight with her mom; the foreigner who came to the resort after an accidental leakage of her video went viral - In all these narrations Anita tried to set up examples of how the society try to admonish the feminine spirit with an overwhelming domination, but left out for us reader to reach for a conclusion on the characters - which most of the readers don't want to in my opinion.
A one time read if you can stand through the feminine voice ringing aloud sometimes in the otherwise great book. Don't read if you are looking for a thriller or a horror genre.