Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quest for silence

A daring new novel that seamlessly blends the real and the fantastic.

In the beginning, there was silence. “The silence was in me. And the silence was me. It lasted eighty days”. So writes Evie Steppman, crouched over her luminescent computer in the perpetual twilight of her attic at the top of a house in Gullane, Scotland. Evie, in her fifties now, alone — both mother and father gone — is fast losing the one exceptional capacity she possesses, one that has dominated her life: her fantastically keen sense of hearing. So keen that even as she floated in her mother's womb, after the initial eighty days of silence, she heard, “....the vicious spitting of feral cats, rug-beaters thwacking, traffic-bustle and crowds”.

 The year was 1946, the place, Nigeria, where Evie's father was a colonial officer. In the turgid heat of summer, Evie's mother suffered, awaiting her arrival, but Evie was loath to leave the echo chamber of her mother's womb where she was safe from the dangers of the outside, and where she was “free to tumble and dream.” This stubbornness eventually caused her mother's death and Evie was evicted into a world marked by the absence of a mother, the presence of a distracted, often indifferent father, a world she perceived almost entirely through her immensely exaggerated powers of hearing.

Full report here Hindu

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