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Riots revisited

A few years ago,Delhi-based writer Githa Hariharan visited Ahmedabad to try and understand the carnage of 2002.

Written by Anushreemajumdar | Published: February 18, 2009 5:49 am

Githa Hariharan’s latest novel unfolds in the backdrop of the Gujarat carnage

A few years ago,Delhi-based writer Githa Hariharan visited Ahmedabad to try and understand the carnage of 2002. “I wanted perspective on what happened before the riots and what has happened since,” said Hariharan at the launch of her seventh novel Fugitive Histories (Penguin,Rs 450).

Fugitive Histories starts in New Delhi when the protagonist Mala begins sifting through a collection of sketches and paintings left behind by her late husband Asad.

She finds herself revisiting the early days of their relationship,one that had sent a panic attack through her Hindu family for marrying a Muslim. But now that Asad is no longer here,Mala wonders how the cycle of repercussion works,how events based so far away could turn her life around so effortlessly. Simultaneously,other stories emerge — of Sara,her daughter with Asad,who embarks on her own journey that takes her from Mumbai and Ahmedabad,where the communal riots have wrecked the lives of people who are battling with memories that have scarred them forever.

Hariharan says she spent a lot of time on research but consciously decided not to let the riots override everything else about Gujarat. “It’s the relationship between Mala and Asad that is the focus of the novel,” says Hariharan,whose first novel,The Thousand Faces of Night,won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in 1993.

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