Mornings After Paperback – 23 Aug 2016
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About the Author
Tharun James Jimani is also the author of Cough Syrup Surrealism (2013). His short story 'An Absurd Romance' was published in the anthology Music of the Stars and Other Love Stories. Mornings After is his second novel.
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It’s also really hard to describe something in a couple hundred words, when you needed to pause on every section of that something to soak it all in.
And by really hard, I mean I’m not sure I can quite capture the essence of Mornings After and deliver it to you, but I’m going to try.
I could give you just three words to describe this novel: intricate, intimate and highly introspective. Mornings After is a beautiful piece of literature that takes you deep into the minds of a couple in love, and helps you unravel the threads of thought and the mess of emotions in a highly modernized, free spirited world.
Truth be told, I was already sold when I heard this book was about sexual fluidity, rape and navigating modern relationships, I just didn’t expect Mornings After to also be a journey of two souls, learning to grow up and grow together, to fall in and out of love and most of all, to discover themselves.
Mornings After is a documentation of two souls in Bombay, India, that happened to run into each other. Sonya is a Business School graduate working a standard nine to five job, while Thomas is looking for inspiration. They’re different, and yet, it’s the Potential that attracts them to one another.
As they get to know each other, their relationship becomes something more meaningful and something more toxic, as only the people closest to us have the power to tear us down. They try and see if one will fit in the other’s pre-existing world and also if they can create a new one of their own together.
Then, the rape case that shook India, the Nirbhaya rape case, where a young medical student was brutally gang raped in a moving bus in New Delhi, and her friend severely beaten up as well, just as Sonya has a similar incident of her own sets in motion the need to quit her day job, and just Make a Difference.
Told with a beautiful writing style that I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing before, Mornings After is all about modern relationships, and modern people – how they think, how they live, how they survive – and is also all about getting to know another person intimately. It’s about having the courage to do your own thing, to show the world who you really are, are learning everytime you fall.
A Deep, Different Novel that you should be reading.
I know that's what will hit home for a lot of readers. Or consider their gang of friends- the ex boyfriend, Anjali, the Gender General...characters that could have easily been caricatures or stock supporting actors. We've been or known people who fit these moulds perfectly. But each and every one of them have well established patterns and motives, making them as real as the central couple. Which is so rare to find AND a joy for the reader! Or consider the blogposts- they are an alternate reality on their own, a sort of retelling of the couple's lives in a more ideal way. Aren't we all prone to this rewriting in our lives? It's a reflection of our social media selves- the regular life we lead dressed up and hashtagged as the one's you'd like to be leading. (Those who loved the blogposts should head over to the author's blog [...]- there's a lot more humour and lighter fare there that sounds like a completely different writer!)
There's the stuff about start-up culture many will recognise- how many times have we heard the words "I have a great idea for an app" in the last few years? Remember the dread of hearing that from a good friend's mouth? But the most important take-away for me is the book's genuine interest in an exploration of gender roles. It doesn't preach or even offer answers- most of the 'gang's' conversations are conversations we have daily: real people stumbling along trying to figure out where we all stand as self-proclaimed liberals in a post-feminist world. What does it mean to be one? What are the levels, where do we go next? How do we bring this into our homes- we get the theory, we're enraged rightfully at all the right things now but how do we bring this home? Do we still shrug it off when our parents behave like well...parents? This works best and most revealingly in Thomas' obsession with the idea of the Beta Male. Consider the character of The Torso- Bollywood matinee idol and "the last bastion of Indian masculinity"- as public in his bad boy bulls***n real life as his characters are on screen (remind you of anyone?). I can't think of a better parody of Bollywood stardom and toxic masculinity peddled by the cult of the alpha male. There are so many levels to how the Torso's life gets mixed up with that of Thomas and Sonya's, and it's a treat to let it unravel as you read. A fantastic, even important book- I don't know of another Indian novel (Chetan Bhagat does not count) that takes on the themes Mornings After takes on and so well. Highly recommended.