by Ira Mathur - £12.99 Peepal Tree Press Ltd (2022)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781845235352 | ISBN 10: 1845235355
This frank, fearless and multi-layered debut centres on a privileged but dysfunctional Indian family, with themes of empire, migration, race, and gender.
Set in India, England, Trinidad and St Lucia, Love the Dark Days follows the story of a girl, Poppet, born of mixed Hindu-Muslim parentage in post-independence India.
When she lives with her grandmother, member of an elite Muslim family, whose history is one of having colluded with the brutality of the British rule in India, Poppet unconsciously imbibes her grandmother's prejudices of class and race. As the darker child in her family, this makes her feel that she does not belong, leading to an over-anxiety to please the adults around her. That feeling of unbelonging is repeated when her family migrates to multicultural Trinidad, made up of people from many continents, where she encounters Indian people, several generations away from India, who have a very different sense of themselves, who appear critical of what they perceive as her airs and graces. She begins writing about her experiences as a way of trying to make sense of them.
In her darkest hour, she meets Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who encourages her, when she visits him in St Lucia over a weekend, to leave the past behind and reinvent herself. All this takes place in a society suffering a crisis of order -- an attempted coup by Muslim extremists and a rising crime rate with reported incidents of spectacular brutality. Can she, through her writing, examine each broken shard of her shattered family relations and reassemble it into a new shape in a new world? Can she make sense of herself in relation both to her own family and the Trinidadian family she marries into, and grow enough to achieve the courage it takes simply to be human?
Raw, unflinching, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity, Love the Dark Days is an intricate tapestry telling of the end of empire that has Poppet's story at its heart.
(Price & availability last checked: August 2022)
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In booklists: Trinidad, Bi-Racial / Mixed Race Lives, Women in India, Women in Asia, Biography and Autobiography, Women's Biography and Autobiography, Caribbean, In categories: World - Latin America & Caribbean, Anti-Racism, Black, Asian & Other Diasporas, Feminism & Women, World - Asia, History & Biography,