Nampally Road (1991)
Village Voice Literary Supplement, Editors’ Choice
Summary of Nampally Road
After four years as a student in England, Mira Kannadical returns to India to teach and write, hoping that “by writing a few poems . . . I could start to stitch it all together: my birth in India, a few years after national independence, my colonial education, my rebellion against the arranged marriage my mother had in mind for me, my years of research in England.”
But the India that Mira finds, teems with confusion and unrest. As the conflict between the townspeople and police reaches a boiling point, Mira realises that the unrest in the souls of Indian men and women is ‘too visible, too turbulent already to permit the kinds of writing I had once learnt to value.’ Turning from poetry, Mira looks to people around her to help define herself: Durgabai, practical and devoted to her patients; Old Swami Chari, preaching that this world’s sufferings are only an illusion; and her rebellious lover Ramu, urging her towards dangerous political action.
Haunting and lyrical, Nampally Road vividly portrays contemporary India and one woman’s struggle to piece together her past.
Praise for Nampally Road
“Like Meena Alexander’s poetry, her first novel is a deeply moving blend of lyric beauty and uncompromising toughness. Nampally Road plunges into the tumult, squalor, and corruption of postcolonial India, yet stands back from it at the same time. Alexander’s prose is both passionate and hard, vividly immediate yet always crystal clear… a grim, beautiful book” — Walter Kendrick
“With its restless crowds, cinemas, shops, temples, mango sellers, cobblers, cafes, and bars, Nampally Road becomes a metaphor for contemporary India. Alexander has given us an unsentimental, multifaceted portrait, thankfully remote from that of the British Raj. Her lyrical narrative has the eloquent economy that marks her best poetry … Alexander treads the waters of fiction lightly and gracefully” — Village Voice.
Read chapters 5 & 6 (“Wordsworth in Hyderabad” & “Rameeza Be”) of Nampally Road by clicking the link below: