22 April, 2021

Sophie’s Voice

Though somewhat languid in pace, the novel wins over the reader with its sincerity.

Sophie’s Voice

Anjum Hasan’s novel Neti, Neti: Not This, Not This is a tale of disaffection set in the glitz of India’s rising youth culture. Sophie Das, an engaging yet aimless young woman, is a transplant from Shillong to Bangalore, where, to her immense ennui, she transcribes the soundtracks of Hollywood movies at a call centre. Her life has all the trappings of freedom: she has her own apartment, and a sweet, if dull, boyfriend, and friends, cigarettes, beer and marijuana aplenty—as well as access to overstocked shopping malls.

Yet she is haunted by its emptiness. Behind the slick surface, everything is a mess, she discovers. Her friends are as confused as she is. Though her Bengali family never truly set root in Shillong, Sophie yearns to return there—and to belong—as the meaninglessness of her life in Bangalore disenchants her.

But Shillong, too, proves chimerical, and Sophie’s attempt to forge a permanent link to it—by way of an enigmatic love interest, Ribor—is fraught with its own...

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