There is nothing small about Tishani Doshi’s tightly wrought second novel Small Days and Nights – just as there is nothing small about India. Whether writing about its people, the scale of the challenges facing a country of epic unequal proportions, or simply describing the natural world on a wild strip of beach, Doshi writes with an economy of words that perhaps only a poet can.

Far from this being a shopping list of ills, she examines the contradictions of India with both tenderness and an objectivity that few novelists maintain. She gives short shrift to some aspects of modernity and what ‘development’ has brought to certain sections of the population – including “new-fangled modern Indian women”. This could be seen as unkind, but by her own admission Doshi concedes that her lead character Grace is not entirely likeable despite her well-intentioned efforts to do the right thing by her family, old and new.

For me it’s always interesting, this dichotomy of incredible generosity and incredible brutality. This exists everywhere, but I think particularly so in India.”

This simultaneously critical and insightful voice draws you into aspects of Indian life not often seen, whether in movies, books or on the tourist trail. There is a ‘nowness’ to this novel that puts the female experience in india at the centre of proceedings.

Her depiction of ‘mad dog-lady’ Grace is drawn from life, and Doshi talks to Bookanista about her own experiences of growing up in Madras and now residing on the savage east coast of southern India. Her sense of place and the importance of nature and animals in relation to humans shapes this novel. Her overabundance of talents and beauty perhaps living proof that God in any form does not exist to make us all equal, let alone in India.

 

Tishani Doshi, born in Chennai (Madras), is an award-winning poet, journalist, essayist and novelist. She has published seven books of fiction and poetry, most recently Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award 2018. Her debut novel The Pleasure Seekers (Bloomsbury, 2010) was shortlisted for the Hindu Literary Prize and longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Also a professional dancer, she lives on the coast of Tamil Nadu with her husband and three dogs. Small Days and Nights is published in hardback and eBook by Bloomsbury Circus.
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Katherine Nathan is Executive Creative Director & CEO at RATCHET, and video content editor at Bookanista.
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Read our 2018 interview with Tishani about Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, and the title poem, a blistering call for anger and resistance against a rising tide of sexual assault in India.

 

 

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