Across the first month of 2020, Sophie Baggott is sharing her thirty favourite books by women from across the world. Find out more about her project to read women writers from every country worldwide here.
I was whisked through Abandon by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (tr. Arunava Sinha), a dreamy blur of a novel, in the midst of our late summer heatwave in September. So addicted was I that I finished it on just the second day of reading, on a slightly-too-long lunch break, and could hardly wait to flick back through to write my mini-review. I loved how Bandyopadhyay emphasised the tensions of being both mother and writer by playing with the narrative voice, and Sinha’s translation from the original Bengali was genuinely breathtaking at some points.
In a nutshell: A metafictional, overpowering haze of wants, needs and question marks as a woman lets us into her attempts to be both mother and artist – exquisitely translated by Sinha from Bandyopadhyay’s Bengali.
To pluck out a line: “We drift through the morbid yellow afternoon”.
If I had to choose one image: One of many passages that drew a sharp breath was Ishwari’s note that the novel will continue to shriek as its characters – she and her son – claw their way between the poles of extreme humanity and extreme art.
Sharing a thought: It’s impossible to be at ease at any point of this novel, in which Ishwari’s dislocated existence sees her flit from a serene space focused on art, spirituality and consciousness to a dire bedsit teeming with vomit and ants.
a fact: Bandyopadhyay has said outrage in India caused by her earlier novel Panty (re: sex scenes) wreaked havoc with her son’s school life, her publisher’s reputation and even her translator Arunava Sinha.
If you’d like to read Abandon, visit here.