21 September, 2020

A Partial Story

Outdated feminist formula

A Partial Story
THERE is something distinctly dated about Mina Singh's first novel. I am not talking about the period atmosphere, painstakingly and convincingly recreated, tongas, skylights, et al. I am talking about the slightly whiny, accusatory, complaining tone of the novel, the posture of unformulated outrage that holds it together, the lack of perspective on quite what it is that the world does to women. This is a Gothic novel gone grotesquely wrong, a turn-of-the-century tirade against men and menstruation and many other things.

Certainly the book has much to recommend it, such as a robust writing style that competently mirrors the vigour of the Punjab landscape where it is set, and a deft feeling for the nuances of relationships and situations. But these details do not a novel make. A rambling structure and an enormous and random cast of eccentric, exaggerated and unidimensional characters contribute to the sense of chaos and confusion that marks the book. The occasional and rather arbitrary epistolary style that punctuates the novel illustrates yet...



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