It’s past your bedtime in Delhi and there’s smog all around, but pollution is not the only thing that’s suffocating Anjali, the protagonist of Damyanti’s debut novel. Damyanti Biswas’s dark and gripping literary crime thriller You Beneath Your Skin has many layers to keep you engrossed and engaged, page after page.
An Indian American single mother, Anjali Morgan is fighting with the demons of the past while juggling her job as a psychiatrist and caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt. Across the city, in a crime spree women from Delhi slums are being found stuffed in trash bags with their faces and bodies disfigured by acid. As events spiral out of control, Anjali finds herself horrifyingly at the center of it all. Biswas knits a world where a smog-choked Delhi is filled with life’s vagaries from rape, murder, prostitution, acid attacks to social, political, hypocritical intricacies of the society, and of course the bane and savior of our lives- love.
The characters in You Beneath Your Skinare real and flawed. The nuances of the characters, as you move forward in the story, remind you of people you may have seen, met and talked to. Their rage is real, their problems are real and their truth is real, and this takes you to dark spaces in your city. Yet, you are not able to put down the book as the plot and the crisp, compendious, and absorbing style of Biswas’s writing keeps you on your toes.
One of the key elements of the book is the voice it gives to the innocents. The mothers who are abused, the little daughters who are sold out, and how their lives mean so little. Using the framework of a crime thriller, Biswas conjures in this book a well-researched portrayal of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption. The narrative brings forth an authentic, resonant novel that comes from Biswas’s years of interaction with women and children in Stop Acid Attacks and Project Why, the two organizations where the author proceeds of the book are directed. Overall, the book is a bold, dark, sensitive and ambitious view of the gruesome underbelly of big cities that will keep you awake all night.
Courtesy: Opinion Express News Services