Moth, Melody Razak ( hardback, June 2021)
£14.99Delhi, 1946 Ma and Bappu are liberal intellectuals teaching at the local university. Their fourteen year-old daughter - precocious, headstrong Alma - is soon to be married: Alma is mostly interested in the wedding shoes and in spinning wild stories for her beloved younger sister Roop, a restless child obsessed with death.
Times are bad for girls in India. The long-awaited independence from British rule is heralding a new era of hope, but also of anger and distrust. Political unrest is brewing, threatening to unravel the rich tapestry of Delhi - a city where different cultures, religions and traditions have co-existed for centuries.
When Partition happens and the British Raj is fractured overnight, this wonderful family is violently torn apart, and its members are forced to find increasingly desperate ways to survive. But the resilience of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing... meet Alma: the beating heart of the novel.
We meet her as a precocious 14-year old who becomes entangled with the chaos of Partition with devastating consequences Roop: Alma's younger sister. Obsessed with death, she is a fierce, funny and rather wild child trying to make sense of the destruction that has befallen her family Ma and Bappu: their dream of an independent India collapses under the weight of History. Ma's experience mirrors that of the many Indian women who were hoping for new freedom under an independent India - and had to face more harassment and insecurity insteadAnd many more: the Muslim nanny, forced to hide in a water tank; the widowed house-keeper whose mission is to keep the family together; the old grandmother, obsessed with the family's honour and determined to preserve it no matter the cost...