Karim and Maya:
[x] share a home
[x] worry about money
[x] binge-watch films
[x] argue all the time
Karim, a young film-maker, carries with him the starry-eyed dreams of the Arab Revolution. Maya carries her own pressing concerns: an errant father, an unstable job, a chain-smoking habit, a sudden pregnancy. When Karim’s brother disappears in Tunis, and Karim wants to go after him, Maya must choose between her partner and her home city, her future and her history…
In a conversation between forms, fictions and truths, Exquisite Cadavers is a novel about a young couple navigating love in London, and a literary hall of mirrors about an author navigating the inspirations behind her work.
Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fictionwriter, translator and activist who was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010), and the critically acclaimed novel, Gypsy Goddess. Her second novel, When I Hit You, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for fiction 2018. She currently lives in East London.
Published by Atlantic Books on the 7th of November 2019. You can purchase yourself a copy here. I’d like to thank both the publisher and Midas for sending me out a copy of the book in preparation for the blog tour.
Exquisite Cadavers is one of the handful of novels longlisted for this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize, organised by Swansea University. What is this prize I hear you ask? Well, The Dylan Thomas Prize is a leading prize for young writers presented annually. The prize, named in honour of the Welsh writer and poet Dylan Thomas, brings international prestige. It is open to published writers in the English language under the age of forty. The prize was originally awarded bi-annually, but became an annual award in 2010.
Exquisite Cadavers is a uniquely written contemporary novella that shares parallel lives of the author and her fictional couple through a dual type narrative, both are cleverly independent while being closely dependable. Meena has been really open in the preface of the novel by telling the reader that she takes aspects of her experiences and wraps them in a fictional blanket, while also providing the harsh truths of life as an Indian female, as well as a Tamil female.
The stories told in this novel as the different sides of the same coin. Karim and Maya, the fictional couple, whose lives you’ll find amongst these pages are living a life of domesticity, one where they are dependant on one another while living the struggles of everyday trying to withhold their united front. Meena speaks more independent of her husband and family, where she unveils the truths behind the violence of the Arabian resolution – a resolution that Karim is very much for – she speaks of those who lost their lives, the rapes and violence experienced, while also discussing her father’s affiliation as a far right nationalist. Meena’s ability to create a captivating and extraordinarily prosed read that is deepened by her personal knowledge – eye-opening, shocking and poetically gripping.
Meena is a strong, distinctive female voice amongst contemporary literature, she’s taken a version of therapeutic writing that reflects a life that’s not darkened by the actions of humans, as well as giving a voice to victims of these tragedies, while also providing a story through more rose tinted glasses. Exquisite Cadavers is a thought provoking read that is distortingly fragmented that further opens the stage for the authors thoughts. Exquisite Cadavers is a poetically penned novel that will hold your attention, Meena has used her platform as an author to share the history and struggle of those who have been harmed and jailed for speaking out in hope of gaining a more equal world.
Have you read Exquisite Cadavers? What did you think? Feel free to share your thoughts below! There’s tours going on this month for all 12 of those longlisted for The Dylan Thomas Prize, to keep up to date with all reviews make sure to check out the hashtag #SUDTP20
Until next time,