Kuzhali Manickavel

I came across Kuzhali Manickavel's writing some months ago, with her blog, thirdworldghettovampire.blogspot.com, and her fiction collections, "Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings" and "Things We Found During the Autopsy". It was love at first word.

 "Insects ...", which I read first, was warm and funny and weird and wise. The titular story, especially, awakened a heretofore unencountered force of recognition in me although I've never preserved dead insects in cardboard boxes. All her stories do this: take me back to India, to Indianness, or Tamilness to be exact, all while describing situations I have never encountered there. Her heroines have the kind of freedom--to roam, to date, to have undefined relationships--that I could never have dreamt of there, and yet, and yet, I'm able to inject the little freedom I had into those stories and they reward me with floods of truth and emotion. She sketches life with unfailing honesty and surreal, dark humour that manages the greatest layers-per-sentence density that I've ever come across. Plus: references to '90s Tamil pop culture!

I tried to write something intelligent about what her writing is; about what it does to me,  the big, whirling portal to another dimension that it opens up in my heart ... But I cannot. I cannot be articulate about these stories. "anarch" fucked me up something bad, as did "throwing stones at dogs". They leave me a mess, and when I've sort of recovered, I'm yearning for more.

Shweta Adhyam