Book review: The Girl Who Ate Books5 min read . Updated: 16 Apr 2016, 01:03 PM IST
This collection of essays by Nilanjana Roy documents the birth of a habit, of how Indian English writing turned from curiosity to comfort
That a Bengali should write a book titled The Girl Who Ate Books seems like the most natural thing to do. Bengalis, after all, eat everything. Khai, the all-weather verb for eating, unites such disparate things that the distinctions between what constitutes food and what cannot be eaten seem not to exist at all. Bengalis “eat kisses" (chumu khelam), and one could, just on the basis of that, categorize their lives as overwhelmingly erotic had they also not eaten the proverbial opposite of the kiss—the kick. Laathi khelam—the Bangla equivalent of “I was kicked" is “I ate a kick"; lathi jhaata khelam, meaning “kicked and beaten with a broom", being a modified version of the same; maar khelam, “I ate up the beating"; thappor khelam, “I ate a slap"; chimti khelam, “I ate a pinch"; pyaak khelam, “I was teased". But Bengalis also eat good things, like lyadh, their “leisure". The most outrageous thing in the Bengali’s diet would certainly be “False"—“False khelam", “I was duped" or “I was cheated". Giving it close competition is “Case khelam", “I was fooled" or “I was booked for a mistake".