I grabbed a copy of Burnt Sugar shortly after the Booker 2020 longlist was announced, seeing it taking off all of a sudden. The story investigates the dysfunctional relationship between a mother, Tara, and daughter, Antara, living in the Indian city of Pune after Tara’s memory starts to fail.
I had high expectations, seeing it’s sudden popularity boost, but have to admit I was slightly underwhelmed and left with mixed impressions. Stylistically this book is great – I liked the writing style and I think Doshi manages to be distinct in her writing without doing anything too bizarre – however, I just didn’t quite click with the story and was left with a slightly dissatisfied feeling at the end.
The book is made up of two alternating story lines, one telling the story of Antara’s unusual childhood, and the other in the present day, when Tara’s memory begins to fail and Antara is fully grown. Tara left Antara’s father to go to the ashram (a spiritual hermitage or monastery in India) after becoming the lover of a guru, taking Antara with her but remaining largely absent. The knock-on effects of Antara’s upbringing are explored in the second storyline, where Antara is forced to take on a more prominent role in her mother’s life.
This book was definitely an interesting study of the long-lasting impacts of child neglect and I think with further analysis there may be a lot of deeper observations to be made. I suspect there is more to this book under the surface than is apparent . I wouldn’t describe this book as enjoyable but I do think it’s an interesting read. I enjoyed the childhood storyline much more than the adult storyline as I found the latter disjointed and Antara’s thoughts hard to follow.
You can buy a copy from your local independent bookshop through Hive here!
This wonderful novel spans generations and combines the power of 12 startling voices to share the experiences of British women of color. Mainly set in London we hear the story of a proud black lesbian playwright, her sassy super-feminist daughter and a sexually fluid millennial, just to name a couple.
It’s Black History Month in the UK and I decided this year I should finally get round to reading some of those incredible stories that I haven’t quite made time for yet.
I can definitely see why this books is a bit love it or hate it. The story of Dexter and Em is given to us in snapshots, Starting from their meeting at uni up to their late 30s, the book oozes sexual tension, but with an increasingly dark edge which reminded me of Sally Rooney’s novels.