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.
This book review was published in Outlook India, here.