Book Review: Acid by Sangeetha Sreenivasan

Book Name: Acid

Author: Sangeetha Sreenivasan

Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: Two striking women, Kamala and Shaly, helm an unusual household, fuelled by their intense, tempestuous romance in a rapidly changing Bangalore. Downstairs, Kamala’s sons take care of each other in their own way-the twins are bound together by an early accident that paralysed Shiva, making Aadi his brother’s caretaker. Beautiful Shaly is the object of more than one person’s affections-and she, too, has a complicated past.

When Kamala’s mother dies, she returns to Kerala-to an ancestral house of horrors which lies next to the cremation grounds in Cochin’s outlying reaches: a place which, nevertheless, is home. However, nothing can prepare her for the devastation that ensues in this lyrical, hallucinatory trip of a story.

Utterly gripping and powerfully unsettling, Sangeetha Srinivasan’s phenomenal debut subverts received ideas about society, individuality and motherhood. Acid unravels the secrets that lurk beneath the surface oif our lives, and marks the entry of a searing new voice in the Indian literary landscape.

Review: Acid is a brilliant novel. The author has deftly spun a yarn around the tale of a dysfunctional family and this bold novel heralds the arrival of a powerful new voice in India. I have never ever read such a unique work for a long time.

The tale revolves around the lives of two women primarily. There is sex, drugs and the reader watches the plot unravel which brings about more misery and more reticent characters. As the tale unfolds, we are privy to the dirty secrets and maybe its a bit too morbid but it works very well for the book.

The author has managed to put an entire culture and family into the pages of this tastefully done book. Its bold, brave and does not shy from tackling even taboo subjects. What an honest author and what a piece of writing! You cannot demand a better book than this.

There is never a harrowing moment in Acid, even the title is apt and perhaps a pun on the ever so frequent twists and turns in the book just like the stomach acid results in a horrific death of a person after an accident or terrible wound.

“The man who enters the sanctum will cry out, to be forgiven, to be rescued from what he knows not. Who knows who can save whom?”

The book is full of tragedies each one more powerful than the other but that is how life is- a series of tragedies interspersed with some beautiful moments and in the longer run we tend to forget the dull moments and focus on the positive ones. This is why this book is so powerful as it is not sugar coated, not one bit.

“Kamala’s mother died last night. It had been several months since she started dying. Now that she was dead, Kamala should have been beside her body for the eulogy in the absolute morning.”

Sangeetha is a very powerful writer and it is remarkable that the world does not know more about her or her works. Her language skills are exceptional and she plays with words wonderfully well constructing a dysfunctional family. She tackles themes of love, sex and doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult subjects. This work is perhaps the culmination of an artist’s life long dream and there is nothing to criticise here. One cannot criticise such brilliant writers!

But then its my job to critique and the one thing that was irritating was the shorter chapters; sometimes even two to there pages long. Or perhaps its just that you want to read more and more and the shorter chapters tend to act as a distraction.



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