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Book Review : Ratika Kapur

Overwinter

Hachette India

Ratika Kapur

Rs. 495

Overwinter is a startlingly accomplished first novel, no– a stunning debut. From the  outset the protagonist Ketaki draws you into her existentialist dilemma which takes on the suspense of a thriller.  Ketaki’s need and longing for Deepak Uncle who  lies comatose, leads her to fitfully seek other men, closer her age,  in carnal, casual sexual encounters. For handsome Deepak can no longer give her the devotion he once did, one that he denied his bitter lonely bereft wife, her own Neera Masi. But be it Ketaki’s standby lover Krishan, or the courting Siddharth, she remains largely unfulfilled.

Defense Colony, Lodi gardens, Khan market, Okhla Barrage, Gymkhana Club form the novel’s backdrop. However the novel is not about of the loneliness of two upper middle class Delhi maids, old and young, nor of the secret that keeps them apart. Yet  in its artful unraveling a delicate, tenuous web is woven within which these intricate relationships are caught.  Kapur ventures  with bravado  into terrain where seasoned writers fear to tread, adeptly handling the nuances of incest with sure and nimble prose. Not a false note struck between.

Amongst today’s deluge of `prima donna’ writers,  Kapur’s voice must not go unnoticed; for it rings with a rare  integrity that will surely gain substance even as the sound and fury of  others,  more powerful,  will ebb. When like a slow river reaching its estuary, truth is revealed, the  haunting betrayal of the two mute spectators,  Ketaki’s father in New York and her Neera Masi in Delhi,  climaxes in a daughter’s knowledge of the reality of her own mother’s life. Will the beautiful Deepak’s death bring release, maybe  new relationships, a new home, a healing?

Overwinter’s  poignant statement is: that  freedom of choice for today’s young is more complex and challenging than we would allow for.

Manju Kak  

This book review was published in Outlook India, here.