Still Lives by Reshma Ruia
Published: 29th June
I received a copy of this for review from the publisher Renard Press. All opinions are my own.
Young, handsome and contemptuous of his father’s traditional ways, PK Malik leaves Bombay to start a new life in America. Stopping in Manchester to visit an old friend, he thinks he sees a business opportunity, and decides to stay on. Now fifty-five, PK has fallen out of love with life. His business is struggling and his wife Geeta is lonely, pining for the India she’s left behind.
One day PK crosses the path of Esther, the wife of his business competitor, and they launch into an affair conducted in shabby hotel rooms, with the fear of discovery forever hanging in the air. Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity.
One of the toughest things for an author to do, is to get you invested in a flawed character. To get you to understand their choices, even when you don’t agree with them.
And that is exactly what Reshma Ruia does in Still Lives.
PK is struggling with where his life is. Business isn’t doing great, and he’s really struggling to connect with his wife and son. And this leads him to a series of decisions, one of which being an affair with this with of a business competitor.
Now, throughout the novel I wanted to shake some sense into PK. He was making stupid decisions, not thinking about his family, and really not thinking things through. But Ruia has written the novel in a wonderful way that you do still empathise with him. The reason that his decisions are so frustrating, is that you want things to go well for him. While not agreeing with what he does, you do understand why.
This novel is a stark picture of real life. People aren’t perfect. And life can be hard. And that is what is truely at the heart of Still Lives wonderfully captured in Reshma Ruia’s writing.
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