Review: A Cut Like Wound, by Anita Nair

  • PUB DATE: May 15, 2014
  • MARKET: Crime Fiction
  • BINDING: Paperback
  • PRICE: £8.99
  • ISBN: 978-1-908524- 362


It’s the first day of Ramadan in heat-soaked Bangalore. A young man begins to dress: makeup, a sari, and expensive pearl earrings. Before the mirror he is transformed into Bhuvana. She is a hijra, a transgender woman seeking love in the bazaars of the city. What Bhuvana wants, she nearly gets: a passing man is attracted to this elusive young woman-but someone points out that Bhuvana is no woman. For that, the interloper’s throat is cut. A case for Inspector Borei Gowda, going to seed, and at odds with those around him including his wife, his colleagues, even the informers he must deal with. More corpses and Urmila, Gowda’s ex-flame, are added to this spicy concoction of a mystery novel.

My Review

Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for organising this tour and the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.

The Rosie Synopsis

Bhuvana, a hijra, with a difficult past and painful present, kills the men she has sex with.

Inspector Borei Gowda is searching for the serial killer strangling and slicing men’s throats with a glass covered cord. He is going through a bit of a midlife crisis: his wife, Dr Mamtha, and son, Roshan, move away so Roshan can go to medical school; his old college friends, Michael and Urmila return to his life turning things upside down; and he has to teach a new boy at the station how to be an inspector. It doesn’t help that the ADP is obstructing the investigation and the suspect in the case is also a local Corporator (a ward councillor?).

The Good

I must preface this with: I know nothing about Bangalore, Hijra, or the regional culture. According to various online dictionaries, the word hijra means a person who is assigned male at birth but is presents as either a woman or as neither a man nor a woman. The word comes from Urdu and means ‘eunuch’. There are plenty of eunuchs in this book, usually referred to as ‘she’ so I assume they’re trans women. The plight of the eunuchs and hijra is brought up in this book, in the form of a photography exhibition which Gowda opens.

Gowda is a passionate, honest policeman, in a world where corruption is entirely normal. His refusal to take bribes and his disregard for the social position of the people he is pursuing has seen him shunted into a minor role, Inspector in a tiny station in south Bangalore where the most exciting thing is the annual Ganesh washing in a neighbouring lake. He is going through a crisis of identity, of his place in his family and his role in life. He’s a very complicated and interesting character.

The other characters are well-rounded and individuals. I thought SI Santosh was particularly interesting, he’s so naïve and ready to learn, but frustrated by working with Gowda. He’s new to Bangalore and confused by the differences from his small town. He’s also clever enough to send texts with his location and record events. I hope he survives.

There’s hints of major corruption with the ADP, especially when a historical case is brought up in Gowda’s memory. It’s fairly obvious that the ADP is protecting child abusers and might possibly be an abuser himself. I want to see how this plays out because with the recording, Bhuvana’s play at the end of the novel will be shown to be false, and the connection between a historical case where Gowda met the ADP and Bhuvana’s abuser will be obvious. Although, it’s India so he’d probably get away with it.

The plot is complex and a slow burner. The interweaving of Bhuvana’s story with the investigation gives insight into the murders that the police don’t have. I was confused at first as to how Bhuvana fitted into the investigation and for a while thought she was a red herring; but it slowly started to become clear who Bhuvana was and why she killed men.

The descriptions of the culture and environment of Bangalore is vivid and lively. I was utterly immersed in this novel and couldn’t put it down for several hours.

The Not-So-Good


The Verdict

Loved it, I want to read the next one. Now.

The Author

Anita Nair lives in Bangalore and is a prize winning, internationally acclaimed author, playwright, essayist, lecturer and literary personality. Her novel Ladies Coupe, first published ten years ago, is a feminist classic published in thirty languages all over the world. The Daily Telegraph called it ‘one of the most important feminist novels to come out of India’. The movie adaptation of her previous book, Lessons in Forgetting, has just won the Indian national award for the best feature film in English language. The Lilac House, another novel was critically acclaimed.

1 Comment

  1. annecater says:

    Huge thanks for this amazing blog tour support Rosie x

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