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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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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.
The book began like all books with a captivating opening line do- it had me hooked and madly devouring it at 3 am. The looming suspense prevented me from keeping the book down; it had me gasping and often, my skin crawling. Until just over half of the book, when monotonicity sank in.
The book is more of a collection of short stories that are interwoven, with the characters no more related than two passersby on the road (here, a resort in Kerala) Each of Nair's characters is a powerful woman who has a compelling tale to recall- tales that changed their lives for the better or for the worse (the latter in most cases) All of these stories are rooted in desire, and while some showcase how the women evolved through the adversity, others show their downfall. All these characters, be it Sreelakshmi or Urvashi who has just left her house or Najma who is an acid attack survivor, have been portrayed with all their flaws intact. The characters are as real as it gets; you would have come across a Rupa or a Markose or a Molly and Thomasina. The character that most stirred my emotions was the six-year-old Megha, whose innocence drove home her pain.
This was the first time I read Anita Nair and I was spellbound by her writing. Her words have the power to move and shatter her readers and had me holding on to her each word like dear life. I loved the analogies she drew, like that of a ghost and a writer.
What disappointed me about the book was that, despite having such a brilliant start and so much potential to be a great read, somewhere in the second half of the book, the writer faltered. For instance, though the characters where spectacular, after a point, it felt like there were just too many that were not even necessary. For example, the sisters Thomasina and Molly, or Liliana, whose relevance I failed to understand, as they were just barely there. And when I finished the book, it felt like there were too many loose ends. Nair does not tell us what happens to most of the characters in the end. I wanted to know what happened to Megha or Brinda or Maya. I was so furious at her for offering me a full-fledged meal, but only letting me have the starter. But now when I look back, I guess that is what makes this book a unique read.
Eating Wasps by Anita Nair, in all its unusualness, is a heart-wrenching read that will move you and often break you. Like most of the characters in it, the book is not perfect. But trust me, this is one of those books that will leave you with so many questions and refuse to leave you even when the last word is said and forgotten.
Anita's words flow seamlessly as the river featured in this book ...
I experienced many epiphanies during this read. Some of them will stay with me a while I know. Delve into this poignant read to experience a myriad range of emotions.
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