Second one of my book subscription boxes surprises. This one came from the Willoughby Book Club. Beautiful cover and a writer I didn’t know before had me intrigued. Also my shallow side was happy that it was not too long, at just around 200 pages. My brain is now tired of long books, like I’m running out of space.
What a great choice it’s been. The strict action portion of the book takes place during one morning, when Mother, aged 43, lies on her driveway, shot. What we follow is the semi-conscious tread of her thought, as the blood and life seep out of her. We are in a suburb in North Carolina, the Confederate flag present everywhere. Mother was born in the US, but she is of Indian descent, and that is a problem.
She woozily thinks when was the crucial decision and crucial moment that led her here. And while doing that she recounts countless acts of racial aggression. Countless questions ‘Where are you from?’, ‘When are you going back to your country?’. But also her love for her husband, who she calls her hero. Who now is rarely present at home, because of the business travels. Her children are also an important part of her life, even if they don’t always make it easy. Long awaited, they are her treasure and she wants to protect them. She remembers the dog they had before they had children.
All that in short chapters intermingling with her realization of her current situation. I won’t go into more details not to spoil the book. But it really is great in its visceral presentation of everyday racism. It is brutal, but written with a witty and ironic language. It is one of those books that you will read in one sitting, because that’s what the flow demands, but also because it really is difficult to put down. Because we all want to know, we all want to understand where was this point when our life changed forever.
It is a book about bog things like racism and feminism, but also about the bigger ones like what is important in life. How the important things can get poisoned and diluted with loneliness and constant stream of abuse. How the world can be deadly. It is a book that makes you think, but what is more it actually makes you feel. You feel how it is to be Mother, you feel her pain. For once compassion is what the word originally meant ‘to suffer together’
It is funny, it is brutal, it is raging, it was a great fantastic surprise, and I certainly do recommend it. It is a debut, but it is also hard to believe it is. The writing is very assured, juggling the light language with serious topics, but also unfailingly building tension. Showing things we don’t want to see, but have to be aware of to change them.