The 100-page story of Milly and Soni, two tribal villagers, is held together by Mukherjee’s wonderfully inventive prose styleby Tanjil Rashid / July 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus, £16.99)
You can tell a lot from the titles of Neel Mukherjee’s novels. The “state of freedom” he refers to in the title of his latest work has multiple meanings. It rings ironically of Indira Gandhi’s state of emergency from 1975-77, even as the book’s five narratives are set in contemporary India. The title also refers to a metaphysical state, the freedom unlocked when—like each of Mukherjee’s protagonists—you are dislocated from home. The characters’ lives, from a servant in Mumbai to an Indian-American emigré, serve to examine troubled social relations. The 100-page story of Milly and Soni, two tribal villagers, is an especially searing account of state oppression and Communist terror.