A Death in Shonagachhi – Rijula Das
‘Rijula Das is a writer to watch’ – Avni Doshi
‘A debut you cannot stop reading’ – Arunava Sinha
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In the red-light district of Shonagachhi, Lalee dreams of trading a life of penury and violence for one of relative luxury as a better-paid ‘escort’, just as her long-standing client, erotic novelist Trilokeshwar ‘Tilu’ Shau, realizes he is hopelessly in love with her.
When a young woman who lives next door to Lalee is brutally murdered, a spiral of deceit and crime further disturbs the fragile stability of their existence. Despite misgivings, Lalee lets new opportunities promising wealth and respite lure her away from the familiar confines of her neighbourhood. But beneath the facade of the plush hotels lies an underbelly of unimaginable secrets that will endanger her life and that of numerous women like her. As the local Sex Workers’ Collective’s protests against government and police inaction and their calls for justice for the deceased woman gain fervour, Lalee and Tilu must each embark on a life-altering misadventure in order to escape a similarly savage fate.
Set in Calcutta’s most fabled neighbourhood, A Death in Shonagachhi is a literary noir as gritty and devastating as it is wry and tender, laying bare the ruthlessness that preys upon our society’s outcats and the impediments to dignity and love. Chekhovian in spirit and reminiscent of the works of Nabarun Bhattacharya, it introduces us to an astonishing new writer.
About the Author
Rijula Das received her PhD in Creative Writing in 2017 from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she taught writing for two years. She is a recipient of the 2019 Michael King Writers Centre Residency in Auckland and the 2016 Dastaan Award for her short story ‘Notes from a Passing’. Her short story ‘The Grave of The Heart Eater’ was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2019. A Death in Shonagachhi is her first novel. Rijula is from West Bengal and lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
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