The Blind Matriarch
The blind matriarch, Matangi-Ma, lives on the topmost floor of an old house with many stories.
From her eyrie, she hovers unseeingly over the lives of her family. Her long-time companion Lali is her emissary to the world. Her three children are by turn overprotective and dismissive of her. Her grandchildren are coming to terms with old secrets and growing pains. Life goes on this way until one day the world comes to a standstill—and they all begin to look inward.
This assured novel records the different registers in the complex inner life of an extended family. Like the nation itself, the strict hierarchy of the joint-family home can be dysfunctional, and yet it is this home that often provides unexpected relief and succour to the vulnerable within its walls.
As certainties dissolve, endings lead to new beginnings. Structured with the warp of memory and the weft of conjoined lives, the narrative follows middle India, even as it records the struggles for individual growth, with successive generations trying to break out of the stranglehold of the all-encompassing Indian family.
Ebbing and flowing like the waves of a pandemic, the novel is a clear-eyed chronicle of the tragedies of India’s encounter with the Coronavirus, the cynicism and despair that accompanied it, and theresilience and strength of the human spirit.
In the Media
‘In The Blind Matriarch, Namita Gokhale tackles our recent pandemic nightmare with courage and remarkable skill. It is a bold and entertaining novel by a hugely talented writer’—Chigozie Obioma
‘Namita Gokhale is a master storyteller. Whenever I pick up her book, I always feel I am listening to her and not reading it. She has a rare art of tying up the time-ends in her narrative. That’s what makes her stories classic’—Gulzar
‘Here is a profoundly Indian novel, a multi-layered narrative woven around an extended family, with a blind matriarch who holds it all together at its centre; her world, a universe of sounds and smells, vague shapes and sharp thoughts, that keep her alert to everything that goes on around her’—K. Satchidanandan
‘Namita Gokhale’s latest novel is a universal tale of love, loss, regret and stoicism in the year of the pandemic, where the acclaimed author of the searingly honest Paro now turns her attention to a joint family’s sudden skirmish with mortality […] With its powerful meditations on both life and death, The Blind Matriarch is simultaneously Namita Gokhale’s most sombre and life-affirming novel yet’—Mrinal Pande