Reading the World: A Kitchen in a Corner of the House
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In A Kitchen in the Corner of the House, Ambai's narrators are daring and courageous, stretching and reinventing their homes, marriages, and worlds. With each story, her expansive voice confronts the construction of gender in Tamil literature. Piecing together letters, journal entries, and notes, Ambai weaves themes of both self-liberation and confinement into her writing. Her transfixing stories often meditate on motherhood, sexuality, and the liberating, and at times inhibiting, contours of the body.
"Ambai's stories...are boldly experimental, pointing to the real source of the best Indian fiction in the vernacular languages. She makes use of polyphony, fragmentation, and multiple persepctives, and her translator succeeds in capturing her technical virtuosity." - Times Literary Supplement
"Unglossed and unrepentant, (Ambai's stories) range over rakshasis and the Ramayana, over the film music of S.D. Burman and the Hindi songs of Pankaj Mullick; they dip into the intricacies of Carnatic singing ... Ambai’s style is efficient and fluid, with a quick poetry about it that gracefully lays the world down ... A Kitchen in the Corner of the House bodies forth a full roster of psychologically rich characters, glittering and wearied souls that breathe upon the page like the last flickering light of a candle. At the end of the collection, you’re left with the impression that Ambai is a dreamer of imperfect dreams, and a writer of perfect sorrows." — 3AM Magazine
"Ambai has created an inspiring collection of female characters who study and have sex. Some wish to be mothers, some do not. These women do not merely long for existence beyond their husbands and brothers and fathers; they achieve that freedom. Holmström’s translation emphasizes the energy Ambai must have included in the original Tamil, and she also manages to bring the sounds of Tamil to an English-speaking reader." — The London Magazine
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