The night after a writer kills herself for reasons unknown to the world, her lover visits the cremation ground and takes away, from amid the embers of her remains, the bone of her index finger. He keeps it as a remembrance, sealed in the false back of his almirah. The skeleton in the cupboard, literally. Until years later, when she finds release in the unlikely precincts of a spa and blithely glides into the lives and secrets of the women inhabiting Near the Nila, the resort by the rising river.
This is Anita Nair territory, her querencia, her familiar world of women and their colliding destinies. Eating Wasps is redolent of one of Nair’s earliest novels, Ladies Coupe. It too had women sharing their life stories in the course of a long train journey. Eating Wasps follows a similar trajectory in laying bare the emotional scars, strengths and vulnerabilities of women. But there’s a significant leap in the treatment, social context and language that Nair deploys as she sensitively tackles child sex abuse, acid attack, social media inroads, the acuity of feelings and vacuity of relationships.