October 20, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

How My Mother’s Lover by Sumana Roy shows ‘We pine for what is not’

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Book Review by Rakhi Dalal

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Title: My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories

 Author: Sumana Roy

Publisher: Bloomsbury India, 2019

Sumana Roy’s book How I Became a Tree, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Sahitya Academy Award (Non-fiction) for the year 2019. Her novel Missing was published in 2018 and poetry collection Out of Syllabus in March 2019. My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories, a collection of fourteen stories, is her fourth published work.

The blurb of the book describes this collection as stories about people suffering from curious ailments. Interestingly, the book starts with this quote by Roland Barthes:

‘I have a disease; I see language.’

This makes it seem as if the author at the start of the collection confides to the reader her own ailment. Perhaps her observations and thoughts translate into words compulsively and take the form of language. Perhaps it is the inevitable metamorphosis of images, definite and indefinite, into words in her mind, which eventually shapes into stories, essays and poems. Through these stories, she seems to contemplate ordinary people’s peculiar ailments, which do not draw much consideration in the conundrum of conventional continuance.

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