Monday, March 1, 2010

Dark Lessons

Anita Nair has made authorly forays into essays and children’s writing, but it is when she returns to fiction that she seems most at home.

Lessons in Forgetting contains two narratives of loss that intertwine almost as though one hopes to seek some comfort from the other. Meera’s husband, Giri, has deserted her in a crumbling, once charming bungalow in Bangalore where she is surrounded by the pained and watchful concern of her ageing mother and grandmother and a young uncomprehending son. Minutes after Giri has walked out, however, Meera meets cyclone expert, Jak, returned to India from an American university to investigate a set of mysterious events that have led to his nineteen-year-old daughter lying in a comatose condition, her face frozen in a grimace, her fingers curled as if continuing to fight the ghastly experience that has led to her catatonic state.

Drawing parallels between life and the unpredictability of cyclones, shifting between multiple points of view and likening Meera’s story to that of the mythological Hera’s would seem to serve up an over-rich mix. But Nair pulls it off, maintaining a taut pace as Jak begins his quest, thankfully refraining from getting overly mawkish and eventually providing a longed-for redemptive ending without the triteness that could quite easily have accompanied it.

Full review here Outlook 

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