Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#BookReview: The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay

On the jacket:

Set in Samrat Updhyay's signature and timeless Nepal, The City Son offers a vivid portrait of a scorned woman's lifelong obsession to get revenge for her husband's infidelity, with devastating ramifications for an impressionable young man.  Acclaimed and award-winning author Samrat Upadhyay—the first Nepali-born fiction writer writing in English to be published in the West—has crafted a spare, understated work examining a taboo subject: a scorned wife’s obsession with her husband’s illegitimate son. When Didi discovers that her husband, the Masterji, has been hiding his beautiful lover and their young son Tarun in a nearby city, she takes the Masterji back into her grasp and expels his second family. Tarun’s mother, heartsick and devastated, slowly begins to lose her mind, and Tarun turns to Didi for the mothering he longs for. But as Tarun gets older, Didi’s domination of the boy turns from the emotional to the physical, and the damages she inflicts spiral outward, threatening to destroy Tarun’s one true chance at true happiness. Potent, disturbing, and gorgeously stark in its execution, The City Son is a novel not soon forgotten.


Easily one of this year's best books, The city son is hard hitting. Let me warn you, you will be horrified. But trust the author as he knows what he is writing; let him handhold you through the story of a young boy.

This story is about 'Didi' and Tarun. Didi is a married woman who lives in the village with her two sons while her husband, a learned man, lives in the city and rarely comes home. When Didi learns of her husband's second family in the city, she moves in with them bag and baggage. She takes over the household and the young child, Tarun who was her husband's second wife's son.

Tarun's mother Apsara loses her mind and is no longer able to take care of Tarun. Under Didi's care, Tarun is treated more like a lover than a son. He is only ten years old. Yes, the book is this shocking. This goes on till even after his marriage.

The City Son talks about how this relationship affects Tarun even after he is a grownup. The complexities of his character are harsh and so real. This book will punch you right between your eyes and leave you stumped. It's real and it's raw. It's not a book anyone can pick up and enjoy, you need to have an appetite for it to digest this story.

Rating: *****/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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