Families are seen as entities emanating the purest form of love. What happens when families are inked into a narrative where their pretences are stripped away and the complexities of relations between kin are rewritten?  

The panel for this session comprised of three authors namely, Aruna Nambiar discussing her new novel, The Monsters Still Lurk; Udayan Mukherjee discussing his novel, Dark Circles and Julia Prendergast discussing her 2018 novel, The Earth does not get fat. The moderator of the session was Tanuj Solanki, a novelist himself and recipient of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. 

Tanuj began the session with the observation that the relation between families and fiction is as old as fiction itself as we can see in the popular epics of Indian culture, be it the Ramayana or the Mahabaratha. His first question, directed at Aruna sought to understand what the ‘monsters’ in the title of the novel ‘The Monsters Still Lurk’ stood for. 

Aruna answered that the ‘monsters’ are metaphorical and went on to explain that they represent the real problems of aging such as fear of mortality which are often scarier than the imagined monsters under our beds. She chose to set her novel in the post-liberalization era as she considered it an interesting time and decided to span it across multiple generations to explore the multiple facets of aging to contrast the changing dynamics of society and changing relationships with children and siblings. 

Udayan who grew up in Kolkata upon being questioned on how the writing of the novel, “Dark Circles”, began and how the characters materialized, pointed out that families have layers of complexities. Every family has the strangest of secrets that remain buried. Curiously, he said that the younger generation was more revolted by his story than the older generation. 

Julia spoke next, explaining that the title of her novel was an African proverb that she had come across while doing a study on proverbs. ‘The Earth does not get fat stuck’ with her as something hauntingly beautiful. In her novel, she has dived into the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. She has also mentioned that it was not a conscious decision to write on such a gritty subject. 

The panel then spoke of the technicalities of choosing a third person narrative and what are decisions that a writer has to make upon choosing the voice for a narrative. 

Tanuj brought up the aspect of resentment that elders in the family feel when their demands are not conceded to. To this, Udayan added that resentment is absolutely fundamental in a family or any other long term relationship for that matter. Julia, on the other hand, commented on the lack of resentment of her narrator and said that  at the end of the day, “Dark Circles”, is a story of love and love doesn’t tend to give up. 

This session spurred many emotions as my mind wavered to reinspect the nuances of familial relationships in the modern day. 


About The Author

Charishma V is just another complex, creative pseudo-adult who can wear several hats.Her blog is at charishmavreddy. She currently writes for TheSeer.

Instagram handle – @poetry_over_prose