Kishwar Desai, Witness the Night (2010)

Bogudfordringen 2011; bøger fra andre kontinenter end Europa og Nordamerika.

The Global Reading Challenge 2011: Asia.

This Indian psychological thriller is the writer´s second stand-alone, but the first one published in Britain.

“I turn around again and, shivering in the cold rain, try to scrub my footprints in the rain water but the blood still pours out of the house, and the footprings form again, perfect and recognizable.”

This is a dream, but fourteen-year-old Durga´s life is not much better when she is awake. The police found her in her home, barely alive, among thirteen relatives who were dead. They had been poisoned, and afterwards someone had tried to set the house on fire.

Though she has been abused and tied up, the police suspect that Durga is not a victim but the perpetrator so now she is waiting for the trial. One police officer is not certain, though, so he calls in an old friend, the very unusual social worker Simran Singh. Simran doubts that the frail, traumatised girl can have committed the atrocious carnage on her family, so she sticks her stubborn nose in everybody´s affairs and does what she can to uncover the truth.

An intriguing story with a strong, determined female protagonist who struggles to manoeuvre in a world of powerful men – and mothers who confirm the prejudice that girls are worthless. The most impressive aspect of the story is the insight it offers into the conditions of women in an Indian town which means it was a perfect pick for my two challenges. Come back for more about this subject tomorrow: When Girls Don´t Count.

The book was sent to me by Maxine whose review you can find here.

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in 2011 Global Reading Challenge, Bogudfordringen 2011, Indian, Kishwar Desai, review, review 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Kishwar Desai, Witness the Night (2010)

  1. Maxine says:

    Nice review! Interesting as I had thought this was her debut novel. I should have checked it out more carefully.

  2. Maxine: thank you. I think you are right in the sense that it was the first one published in Britain, but to distinguish between books published in Britain and India hardly makes sense for a Danish reviewer 😉

  3. Dorte – A fine review! I like the “thriller” element as well as the way you discuss the larger elements the story addresses.In my opinion, the best crime fiction addresses those larger issues by showing us how they affect real people.

  4. Kelly says:

    This sounds excellent!

  5. Jose Ignacio says:

    Dorte, it looks very attractive to me a perfect for the Global Reading Challenge. It has remind me of a film Water (2005) directed and written by Deepa Mehta, because of the Indian setting. Very impressive.

  6. Maxine says:

    Sorry, Dorte, I don’t understand – has she written a previous book in India, then?

  7. Margot: she describes a world very different from mine, but I am afraid it is terribly real to millions of Indian women. I´ll write a bit about that tomorrow.
    Kelly: excellent – and scary.
    Maxine: I just googled it a bit; it seems she wrote “Darlingji, The True Love Story of Nargi” – hardly crime, but probably also about the restricted lives of Indian women.

  8. b says:

    Sounds like an interesting read – adding it to my my tentative TBR.

  9. José: I think you´d appreciate this one.

    b: thanks for visiting. I like the term ´tentative TBR´.

  10. The plot sounds amazing. I’m seriously considering switching my Asia choice.

  11. Pingback: Where Girls Don´t Count | djskrimiblog

  12. Clarissa: I´m glad to hear that because if you read my post of today (Wednesday), you´ll know that this is a book that deserves to be read – not only for the plot.

  13. kathy d. says:

    It does sound like Deepa Mehta’s stunning, but painful movie “Water,” as Jose Ignacio describes above. That movie is so difficult to watch because women and girls are so mistreated once they became “widows.” Even young children who are married off to older men and not by choice, are taken from their parents and banished if they were widowed. The movie takes place years ago, but I wonder what conditions are now for women in the same situation. Although heart-wrenching, this movie should be seen.

  14. Kathy: yes, one thing is to know these things happen, but writers and filmmakers seem to make it much more true because we feel empathy for their characters.

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