Love, loss, war and the fight for freedom come together in Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s debut novel

Love, loss, war and the fight for freedom come together in Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s debut novel


Of all the jazz clubs: Love, loss, war and the fight for freedom come together in an intoxicating cocktail at the glitzy Bombay Duck in Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s debut novel

In Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s Dust Under her Feet, Yasmine Khan, 26-year-old proprietor of the Bombay Duck, has created a home away from home for a vibrant cast of characters. There is Asma who imagines herself to be a character out of a Bronte novel, Patience, the good time girl, and Radhika who is light on her feet and has darkness in her mind.

It is Kolkata in 1942 and the city swarms with American soldiers. “Yasmine wanted to create an environment for the American soldiers that was similar to something that might have been in New York — a nightclub with singing, dancing, food and drink,” says Sharbari who was in Bengaluru for the launch of the book.

Dust Under her Feet tells the story of Yasmine and Edward Lafaver, set against the backdrop of momentous events. The 48-year-old author says, “I didn’t set out to write a feminist text. I think these women are feminists. I was focused on the characters and their story, of this independent woman falling for this American soldier in the twilight of the Raj.”

The author and screenwriter says she chose to go back and forth in time “to illustrate the changes in Yasmine’s philosophy and perspective. I also wanted to show her relationship with her son, who we only get to know through her letters to him”.

The Connecticut-based writer insists that people who have criticised the book for looking at feminism, race and gender through a modern lens are misguided. “If they knew anything about the women who would have worked in a club like Bombay Duck, they would see that these women were much more modern than some of the women today. They are financially independent well-educated, politically savvy and schooled in the art of conversation.”

Sharbari says there is no attempt to exoticise India. “I don’t think there is anything exotic about war, famine or deprivation, not to mention institutional bigotry and oppression. The West has a tradition of romanticising the Raj but it was cataclysmic for our people. I didn’t write the novel to make it palatable to the non-south Asian taste. I was focused on authenticity and I hope I have achieved that.”

Read more

from The Hindu - Life & Style 

Love, loss, war and the fight for freedom come together in Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s debut novel Love, loss, war and the fight for freedom come together in Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s debut novel Reviewed by streakoggi on December 10, 2019 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.