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.
Read excerpt on Scroll.in
Praise for What We Know About Her
Supriya Nair, Writer and Editor
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.
Deepak Unnikrishnan, Author of Temporary People
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.
Gayathri Sankar, Scroll.in
When I think of how my life will be chronicled by future generations, I suspect (and hope) that some aspects of our lives will be deemed regressive in the same manner we regard those before us. Yet I also hope that the women in my life are not painted as victims, but in the rich shades Krupa Ge affords to her characters – read full review in Scroll.in
Percy Bharucha, Hindustan Times
What Krupa Ge has achieved in her debut novel What We Know About Her is a depiction of reality without boundaries. There are only transitions in the form of prose. The novel defies classification; it has no lines. Yet, if you were to ask what the book is about the unequivocal answer would be, “women”. The novel is a tender depiction of Indian women and their agency – read full review in Hindustan Times