22 June, 2021

Of Inner Courtyards

Old-fashioned yet nuanced, this tale of female suffering compels listening now

Of Inner Courtyards
HER earlier book Incantations and Other Stories was marked by understatement and a laconic humour. In Listening Now Anjana Appachana experiments with exactly the opposite quality: excess. The sustained emotional intensity of this 500-page novel and the profusion of dramatic moments sweep the reader off his feet by their very abundance. The number of narrators who unfold the story are as many as six (The Home and the World had three narrators; so did The Sound and the Fury), each person bringing a different perspective on the core events that span some 16 years and about which each one has only partial knowledge. The narrators are all women mothers, daughters, sisters, friends who have listened to each other carefully, shared laughter, swapped memories and fears, who can sense even the colours of each other's darkest secrets. So were stories born. Untold, so did stories die, thinks one of them, except that not all untold stories die, some fester and rot. Guilt stains our thoughts like sweat under the arms. Although essentially it is a love story, men, even the best of them, are out...

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