Monday, 14 August 2017

BOOK REVIEW | When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am really excited to be sharing a review with you of a fantastic book I read a few weeks ago - When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy. When I Hit You is a heartbreakingly written, raw account of a woman who undergoes horrific physical and psychological abuse. It is definitely a hard read, but I also found it incredibly eye-opening, and it is written in a arrestingly beautiful way. 

I was kindly sent When I Hit You by Atlantic Books, in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his i

dealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back - a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. 

Smart, fierce and courageous When I Hit You is a dissection of what love meant, means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence; a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos; and a scathing portrait of traditional wedlock in modern India.

As soon as I was offered this book for review I knew it was something I wanted to read - I would really like to read more diverse books and When I Hit You definitely falls under this category. It is a novel that is hard to categorise, but is a narrative interwoven with the themes feminism, poetry, family and domestic violence. As I said, it is a difficult book to read, but simultaneously a hugely important one. 

Kandasamy is a writer who invariably writes straight from the heart - When I Hit You is profound, heartfelt and bitterly angry - I felt an unapologetic sense of yearning for a life unencumbered by the restraints her husband imposes on her. The novel is hugely invested in poetry and I felt that the writing reflected this - When I Hit You is lyrically beautiful and invested in meaningful images.

I feel like the story was well developed and, as the abuse evolved as the book went on, I grew all the more horrified. I feel like the subject was dealt with really well and in a sensitive but unflinching way. I loved reading about the narrator's fierce and almost unshakable determinism to write, even when her laptop and internet access was taken from her - and she had to type out an article on her phone and text it to her editor. I also learned quite a bit about traditional marriages in India - about the involvement of your family - and how an unhappy marriage can be turned into a question of honour and family embarrassment. The idea of a marriage as a contractual ownership shocked me right down to my core - but this can happen to any woman, from any part of the world, and sometimes I think we like to forget that, or at least avoid thinking about it.

This book was definitely not a lighthearted one, but I think it is required reading; it is the tale of a determined woman who makes the decision to pursue her ambitions whatever the cost, and I think the story is a remarkable one.

Buy When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife here:

Check out Meena Kandasamy here:

Until next time :) 

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