GIVEAWAY: 3 copies of The Witch’s Daughter – PETROGRAD
October 2023: Minor Disturbances at Grand Life Apartment by Hema Sukumar – CHENNAI
2nd October 2023
Minor Disturbances at Grand Life Apartments by Hema Sukumar, charming novel set in CHENNAI.
I really wanted to read this novel set in Chennai (formerly Madras) because I had a trip planned to Chennai and Southern India back in 2020 but the pandemic meant I had to cancel. I am still optimistic that the trip will take place and so I wanted to somehow connect with the possibility of seeing the city, at least through fiction for now….
And what a choice this was. There are four people living in the apartment building. Kamala whose daughter has left to study at Oxford; Reva, whose Mother is pushing her to get married; Jason, whose relationship shattered back in the UK and spontaneously chose Chennai to settle in and work as a chef; and Mani who owns the building. Having a chef in the midst of her characters affords the author ample opportunity to write ravishingly about South India food. Indeed there is a restaurant recommendation, to wit Ratna Café, where one should – apparently – try their Ghee Roast Dosas (that tip has gone into my top tips for Chennai file!).
Mani is being harried by a construction company, who wants to buy the building and plot, and the company resorts to intimidation and vandalism. The tenants are stalwart supporters of his cause (the building after all is their home) and because they have a really joyous community thriving under one roof.
And there is Poons that cat who drops in randomly to observe proceedings.
This story is just a delightful ramble through the characters’ lives, with a wonderfully colourful backdrop of Chennai. It is about relationships and mother-daughter pressures, painting a whole raft of emotions. There is humour and observation of Indian culture that brings the narrative to life and at the end of the novel, I was sad to leave the people living in this little haven. A debut novel that is well worth your time.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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