6 January 2014

Book review: The hour before dawn (Antordeep)

Have you wondered how you would react if your husband decided he needed another wife - if he married a younger woman and had a family with her?

This book a deep reflection on one such woman, Menoka. She has been married 11 years; has produced children, and maintained a conduct of piety and goodness to all around her. So she can't fathom why, one fine day, her husband decides to get married again. The book tracks her story after this marriage, how she behaves (has a brief affair) and the story of her eldest son, who was emotionally old enough to be traumatised by his father's behaviour.

The story is set in rural Assam and weaves between people's actions and thoughts. How the community and family react to this major upheaval in Menoka's life, and how she is expected to deal with it - especially by her son. It's one of those books where the story draws out strong emotions and these stay much longer with you than the literature, words and story itself.

The book is originally in Assamese by noted writer Bhabendra Nath Saikia, translated to English by Maitreyee SC. Check out the cover on the author link - it echos the depth of feeling the book will evoke.

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