River Wedding

ISBN: 9789382749
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Publication Year

2019

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120

$16

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About the Book

The hundred pages of this collection give scope enough to show the generosity of Amlanjyoti Goswami’s perception of the world. This is both intimate and ambitious, paying attention to the gentle nuances of family life without losing sight of the disturbing ways that history unfolds. Moments of revelatory strangeness are often entered through a child’s viewpoint – ‘sunlight talks to Zenzi…’ – but the effect never sentimental. The whole collection could be dedicated, in the delicate wording of a poem simply titled Lunch: ‘To life, more life. // The kind that,like a child, / takes in a morsel, when nobody’s looking.’ The deeper messages speak quietly, but all the more convincingly for that, and the points of arrival are not grand visions but ‘a fine ordinariness’. What renders this quality fine is Goswami’s sure and economical way with language – ‘we wear the dusk of sorry news’, or the blind flautist’s sensation of ‘the grain in the wood, the press and leave / of my fingers’. There is no postcolonial uncertainty in this marrying of Indian perspectives and the English language, whose literary heritage is graciously acknowledged, with nods to Soyinka and Achebe, to Walcott and even (with a healthily wry smile) to Matthew Arnold when he turns up in a second-hand bookstall in Chandni Chowk. Rather, there is a generous welcome to the world – with the freshness of an outsider’s view sometimes, but always with a sense of hospitality. -Philip Gross