Title: That Long Silence
Writers : Shashi Deshpande
My Rating: 2 on 5
I picked up this book as a way to allay my guilty feeling for not reading enough Indian authors. Shashi Deshpande ranks high in the list of top Indian authors, so it was natural to pick up one of her books.
That Long Silence is the story of Jaya, a housewife and mother to two teenaged children and is a writer in her free time. Jaya’s life resembles any typical Indian housewife, compromising for family needs, putting family before oneself, suffering silently, until she gets a jolt when her husband is fired from his work with charges of fraud. Her life turns upside down when her husband ‘the tree which gives shelter’ is no longer the bread earner of the family and they have to live with the shame of the charges and move on with their life. Jaya tells us stories about her cousins, parents, aunts and grandparents and we see how Jaya has evolved through her life.
The main problem I had with the book is its narration. The tone is sloppy, weak and not engaging and the writer jumps from past to present to future which makes you go dizzy. For someone who is left with ‘that long silence’, the conversation should have been deeper and more philosophical, but it sounds like Jaya is nervously reciting from a paper in front of a packed audience. The writer failed to evoke any emotions in me for the main protagonist, which was what the book needed the most. The rest was a downhill journey. The convoluted sentences and bad choice of words makes this book a difficult read. Do we Indians try hard to sound like foreign authors or are we so bad with English that we can’t write well? The characters are lifeless and do not deserve the readers’ time.
I am disappointed that my first attempt at reading more local authors was such a failure. I don’t want to be deterred by this, so I am going to read other authors or other recommended books of the same author. If you have read a good book by any Indian author, do suggest some.