A review by Nalini Haynes
Somlata is a Hindu living in Bangladesh. So this novella follows on from my recent viewing of Viceroy’s House. Somlata is newly married to an impoverished aristocratic layabout. To survive, she manipulates him into opening a shop before they cash out all their assets. Familial politics are treacherous, especially when living in a multigenerational house. A death leads to accusations of theft and murder of the aunt who wouldn’t die. So begins the ghost story.
Boshon’s story is sporadically interwoven with Somlata’s. The novella is split into unusually lengthy chunks for such juxtaposition. Boshon has a crush. And, like many contemporary women, she takes action. Boshon rocks!
The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a cultural phenomenon in Bengal. It’s also a movie. This translation is excellent. The prose evokes Indian and Bengali people’s rhythm of speaking English as a second language. The Aunt gives insight into Bengali culture. However, I cannot compare to the original text.
It’s a cute little hardcover with leaves and flowers adorning the slip cover surrounding a woman in a sari sitting on a trunk. Under the dust jacket is a matching plain blue cloth-textured hardcover with the title and author’s name in matching metallic script on the spine.
I cannot say it better than this.
‘A chaotic, furious, extraordinary Bengali confection . . . Irresistible’ Philip Hensher, The Spectator Books of the Year.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Publisher: John Murray, Hachette
Release date: 2019
Format: Hardcover, pp.167
Category: comedy, romance, ghost story, family drama