This inventive, boldly original novel peopled with ghosts and gods, luminous women and passive men and shot through with an animal vigour is one of the strongest fiction debuts in recent years.
Rupi birthed her eldest son squatting in the middle of a paddy field, shin-deep in mud and slush. Soon after, Gurubari, her rival in love, gave her an illness that was like the alakjari vine which engulfs the tallest, greenest trees of the forest and sucks their hearts out. Now Rupi, once the strongest woman in her village, lives out her days on a cot in the backyard and her life dissolves into incomprehensible ruin around her. The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey is the story of the Baskeys the patriarch Somai his alcoholic, irrepressible daughter Putki Khorda, Putkis devout, upright husband and their sons Sido and Doso and Sidos wife Rupi. Equally, the novel is about Kadamdihi, the Santhal village in Jharkhand in which the Baskeys live. For it is in full view of the village that the various large and small dramas of the Baskeyss lives play out, even as the village cheers them on, finds fault with them, prays for them and most of all, enjoys the spectacle they provide.
An astonishingly assured and original debut, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey brings to vivid life a village, its people and the gods good and bad who influence them. Through their intersecting lives, it explores the age old notions of good and evil and the murky ways in which the heart and the mind works.