Guardian's Best Books of 2017
Daily Telegraph's Best Books of 2017
Observer Best Books of 2017
Financial Times Best Books of 2017
THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
JHALAK PRIZE FOR WRITERS OF COLOUR
The HINDU LITERARY PRIZE
THE INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE
Barely a page went by in Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife without my wanting to underline at least a sentence. Kandasamy’s prose is electric, at once brave and poetic and satirical as she pokes holes in the mythoi of marriage, gender, intellectualism, and art.
UK: Atlantic Books, India: Juggernaut Books (2017), North America: Europa Editions (2020)
German: Schläge: Ein Porträt der Autorin als junge Ehefrau, KulturBooks (2020)
French: Quand je te frappe, Actes Sud (2020)
Italian: Ogni volta che ti picchio, Europa Editions (2020)
Kandasamy's brilliant and at times brutally funny narrator leads the reader through her emotional journey, from confident college student then published writer to battered wife. This is a story that could take place in any culture at any time period. What makes this novel unique is the feisty voice of the narrator and the rich details of her intellectual interests.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This visceral and sophisticated account is both terrifying and triumphant.
One of the most important and shocking and poetic books of 2017.
Fierce and unforgettable.
Urgent... Its beating heart is a universally recognized quest for freedom and meaning in a world where women are still shockingly undervalued
Searing... I read it in a single sitting
Courageous and brave and disturbing and will stay with you for a long time
This book is so so good. One of the best of the year.
Searing. . . The book jacket evokes khadi fabric bordered in saffron, something the socially beloved figure of the “good Indian girl” might wear. Open it, however, and a voice emerges that expresses desire, feels pain and has steely courage.
Preti Taneja, The Guardian
Meena Kandasamy's vivid, sharp and precise writing makes a triumph of When I Hit You.
Ayobami Adebayo, The Guardian
Kandasamy boasts the gifts of clarity and momentum, punch and coherence.
Bidisha, Times Literary Supplement
Such raw, lyrical reading
Sinead Gleeson, RTE Arena
A brilliant but brutal punch to the guts.
The best thing I've read in 2017. Simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, it's a work of considerable power.
The Page is Printed
Read it as an extended prose poem, a feminist anthem, an experiment with life. But do read it.
The Daily O
Seduced by politics, poetry and an enduring dream of building a better world together, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor. Moving with him to a rain-washed town, she swiftly learns that what for her is a beautiful bond of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of an obedient wife, bullying her and devouring her ambition of being a writer in the process, she attempts to push back--a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape.
At once the chronicle of an abusive marriage and a celebration of the invincible power of art, When I Hit You, is a smart, fierce and courageous take on wedlock in modern India.
WHO SHOULD READ
If I have to pick up one review to share with you--then please head over here, and read Deepa D's review of the novel in The Wire.
This review is a piece of writing that any novelist can only dream about--a review that makes you cry from joy that your book has got a perfect reader, a review that gives you the courage to once again stare at a blank page.