BOOK REVIEW: AVNI DOSHI – BURNT SUGAR

Today, it’s all about another book on the Booker long-list this year, Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi.

Today, I’m back with another book review on the Booker long-list this year and it’s the brilliant Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi. This is a brilliant book, but what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:

In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents), and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless ‘artist’ – all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid’s wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her.

This is a love story and a story about betrayal. But not between lovers – between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Burnt Sugar unpicks the slippery cords of memory and myth that bind two women together, and hold them apart.

When I first saw this on the long-list it was a book I’ve seen a few times but I didn’t know that much about it but it was one that I just knew I wanted to read straight away. I enjoyed reading but I didn’t feel like it blew me away at first but… I can’t stop thinking about it. I really loved this story of a mother and daughter and it’s sharp witty prose. The first line of the novel is:

“I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure…”

If there is one way to open a novel, it’s with a line like that! The writing is just *chef’s kiss*. It’s sharp, witty, taut and full of heart and emotion. The chapters are short and snappy, the dialogue is like a slap in the face and the characters are brilliantly written; especially the relationship dynamics between all of the characters.

There is so much to love about this book – I love the themes it explores: mother/daughter, sex, gender, race, family, death, grief, memory, motherhood itself, among others. It’s a book that gets under your skin and you can’t shake it off. For a debut novel, this is something really special. Doshi’s voice is pulsing all the way through the novel and it’s a voice I want to read more of. It reminded me a lot of Ottessa Moshfegh whose writing I also love.

“Sometimes I refer to Ma in the past tense even though she is still alive. I am grieving, but it’s too early to burn the body.”

I also really love the cover of it too that reflects the spiky nature between the relationship of mother and daughter. I really feel that this is a book I need to re-read it again and enjoy the writing again and maybe pick out some stuff that I missed in my first reading. After reading it, it’s one that I can’t stop thinking about. I haven’t got a final personal shortlist prediction, but this is very very very close. I think this will be on the Women’s Prize long-list next year, too. Hopefully.

I can’t wait to re-read it all over again and read Avni Doshi’s next novel.

Have you read Burnt Sugar? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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