July 29, 2020
Her venomous debut novel about a fraught mother/daughter relationship shocked India – and now it’s challenging Hilary Mantel
Avni Doshi did not have children when she started writing what would become her debut novel, Burnt Sugar – in fact, she was deeply unsure about whether she wanted them. Over eight drafts in almost as many years, Doshi wrote through her indecision, telling the story of a difficult mother-daughter relationship that is defined by ambivalence on both sides. After submitting her final manuscript in 2018, she gave birth to a baby boy.
When her novel – which was nominated for this year’s Booker prize on Tuesday – was first published in India last year, under the title Girl in White Cotton, Doshi was nervous about revisiting her visions of parenthood. But she was pleased by her own accuracy, even a bit unsettled by it. Her main character, Antara, experiences postpartum depression, as Doshi did.