Yamuna is adrift. A long-term relationship has come to an end. Her mother and she are at loggerheads about their ancestral home in Chingleput, which she loves and lives in. Even her PhD on early twentieth-century music in Tamil Nadu seems to be going nowhere—until it leads her to an unexpected puzzle from the past.
During her research, she comes to be fascinated by her enigmatic grandaunt, Lalitha, who rose to prominence as a Carnatic musician at a time when thirteen-year-old brides were the norm. And then she chances upon a letter written by her own grandmother to her grandfather that opens up another window into Lalitha’s life. She wants to know more. Only, the more questions she asks, the closer her family draws its secrets. No one will talk to her about this long-dead ancestor’s life or death.
What lies beneath the stories they are willing to tell? Beyond the letters that Yamuna manages to purloin from her beloved grandfather’s papers when she visits him in Banaras? What did this family do to Lalitha? Krupa Ge’s debut novel is an absorbing tale of an angsty young woman who must unravel the secrets of her family before she can untangle her own life.
Praise for What We Know About Her
Like the sea that borders its beloved city of Chennai, Krupa Ge’s What We Know About Her is a work of tides. It’s about the push and between love and freedom, friendship and aloneness, parents and children, music and noise. It vividly recreates the vast landscapes and small worlds of Chennai and Benares, worlds apart from each other but bound by a beautiful and particular modern Indian cosmopolitanism. Above all, it gives us a cast of characters so loveable and skilfully created that it hardly seems possible they don’t exist. Here is a beautiful, ambitious debut, a book for everyone who understands that the past lives on in us, as a story and sometimes as a song – Supriya Nair, Writer and Editor
Krupa Ge was born to write and pin readers to the page. Her writing has spirit, presence, kickassery you want to bottle and snort. Few write about cities, people, and fallibilities, as well as she does – Deepak Unnikrishnan, Author of Temporary People