“And what of those whose roots are planted deep in the soil of their land? What does it take for them to thrive, transplanted?”
East Pakistan, 1950s. Nayantara flees riot‐ridden Narayanbari with her two daughters, leaving behind her life as she knew it. The only link to her past is the legacy she is determined to leave her granddaughter, Neelanjana – the precious pieces of teakwood furniture that oppress the rooms of her tiny flat in Calcutta, where she arrives to take refuge. Decades later, Neelanjana leaves for the US, in a bid to forge an independent life. But, she discovers, as she is gradually bruised by alienation and heartbreak in a country far from her own, that the burden of her family’s history is one she cannot slough off easily, that rejection and violence can stretch across geographies and generations, and that ‘home’ is simply the place where one finally learns to accept oneself. Compelling and deeply affecting, Drowning Fish is about lives trapped in the tumult of motivations and desires, and forged inescapably by events beyond their control.
Why read this?
Out of sheer nostalgia. For those who are familiar with the partition stories, it is the most heartbreaking topic to talk about. For those who aren’t familiar, this book is an opportunity to know about that era, and the aftermath. Few people survived to share their story with the future generations, and Swati Chanda probably captures a piece of that family history and the legacy that the initial refugees left behind. We’d say it’s a promising book, read it to know more about the India-Bangladesh partition.