Dipika Mukherjee plays many roles – author, poet, teacher, mentor, and then, she is also wife, mom and friend. The last part is special to me, because Dipika is possibly one of the warmest people I’ve ever met, always ready with a smile, a hug, a helping hand. No surprise then that when I asked her for her reader feedback, she wrote back in detail, after reading my book with attention and care. But coming back to Dipika Mukherjee the author. She wrote Thunder Demons (publisher Gyaana Books, India, 2011) which had previously been long listed in the Man Asian Literary prize in 2009 – more about Dipika at her website . To know more about her poet avatar, take a look at the Poetry Foundation website, and also read an interview of her by writer an critic Suneetha Balakrishnan here. Dipika’s works can be bought from Amazon among other places.
Dipika reads everything. Now she is falling in love with Margaret Atwood, but loves Alice Munroe’s work, Chimamanda Adiche, Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh equally. At the time I sent her my questions, she was reading a collection of short stories by Margaret Atwood now, Bill Bryson’s “At Home”, Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of Maladies”. And true to style, she enjoys reading more than one book at a time. She loves to read in bed. Sometimes before she starts her own writing in the morning or afternoon. “I like to read someone I admire, ” she adds.
Dipika – I don’t really pay much attention to these things when I know the author and am very eager to read the book! I wasn’t particularly bowled over by the cover design, but it didn’t repel me either.
Me – What were your initial thoughts after reading a few pages?
Dipika – Your beginning voice is that of the more unsympathetic character. She did put me off initially, but I am glad I kept reading.
Dipika – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20898337-culling-mynahs-and-crows has a complete review :)
” I just finished your book and honestly, you had me riveted.
I think you’ve done a spectacular job with Agnishikha’s story –it feels very real, her transformation from an arranged marriage wife to a political entity. I think the details about her life with Sajal, the extended family, the small time frustrations of domestic life with kaajer-lok et al, is beautifully captured. The sex scenes are good too.
I think Agnirekha doesn’t work so well. You almost lost me at the beginning because the opening is in Agnirekha’s voice and she is clearly set up as extremely unlikeable. The pagla-khooni part and her problems in a male-dominated society are well done in maintaining suspense, but unfortunately, the pagla khooni thread is lost and never picked up again. I expected more of a twist there, not in her recollection of the last thing she said to Naresh, which she effectively has already convinced the reader she’s forgotten in an alcohol-fed exhausted stupor. Similarly, I didn’t really believe her lesbian leanings at the end when her attraction to Malati was no clearly laid out earlier. It seemed forced, in a way the debacle with Saibal did not. By the time to get to Sally at the end, I had forgotten that that was how the novel had started. You seemed to veer between wanting Agnirekha as a sympathetic character and a bitch and it veers too much from one extreme to another, whereas Agnishikha is pitch-perfect.
Frankly, I wanted to know more about Agnishikha and her journey. But maybe that’s another story?
I was also puzzled as to why the names were so similar –I think readers sometimes have to struggle to separate the two and you may have served the story better with distinct names? On page 306, at the beginning of chapter 21 (first line), even the author gets confused — you may want to fix that in the next edition :)
You are clearly a writer of considerable talent and I really did read through the book with great enjoyment. I hope you will continue to write many more books. Kudos on your achievement!”
Thank you! This made my day!