24 November, 2020

What Katya Did In Vidarbha

Finally, a novel on the farmer suicides of Vidarbha,a tragedy ignored in mainstr­eam fiction

What Katya Did In Vidarbha

It is no mean feat that Sonora Jha’s debut novel Foreign concerns itself with the farmer suicides of Vidarbha, a tragedy ignored in mainstr­eam fiction. Writing about deep anguish or the collective sorrow of a people can be tricky. You can either be clever about it and invent an allegory, or be prepared to plunge into the darkness. Jha, howe­ver, sits on the fence and commands a swe­eping view. Through protagonist Katya Mis­hra, a reluctant insider, she tra­ins the knowing lens of an anthropologist on the killing fields. Multiple worlds collide in a fairly credible fashion, leaving us with a gripping, if self-conscious, tale.

The novel has a commendable pace that turns breathless once in a while. From cold, contained Seattle, where Katya, a professor who longs to sever all ties with India, we move to Dhanpur, a village in Vidarbha where we enter the lives of Bajirao, a far­mer, and his wife Gay­atri­bai, when news arrives that Katya’s son Kabir is missing. He has disappeared in the cotton fields to look for his father,...



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