A Matter of Time
The New York Times Book Review called Shashi Deshpande's U.S. debut, "austere, philosophical, and rich; a work that . . . grows in moral force and pathos." Deshpande's critical acclaim in India—including three top literary prizes—prefigured the wide recognition abroad of this pivotal novel, now available in paperback. One morning, with no warning, Gopal, respected professor, devoted husband, and caring father, walks out on his family for reasons even he cannot articulate. His wife, Sumi, returns with their three daughters to the shelter of the Big House, where her parents live in oppressive silence: they have not spoken to each other in thirty-five years. As the mystery of this long silence is unraveled, a horrifying story of loss and pain is laid bare—a story that seems to be repeating itself in Sumi's life. Set in present-day Karnataka, A Matter of Time explores the intricate relationships within an extended family, encompassing three generations. Images from Hindu religion, myth, and local history intertwine delicately with images of contemporary India as the women face and accept the changes that have suddenly become part of their lives. As the women's secrets and strengths are revealed, so are the complications of family and culture, catching each in turn in the cycles of love, loss, and renewal that become essential to their identity. A Matter of Time reveals the hidden springs of character while painting a nuanced portrait of the difficulties and choices facing women—especially educated, independent women—in India today. Shashi Deshpande is the author of seven novels, including The Binding Vine, forthcoming from The Feminist Press and is one of India's most celebrated writers. Her work has been translated into many languages and broadly anthologized. Ritu Menon, a founder of Kali for Women, India's first feminist publisher, has co-edited three anthologies of writing by Indian women.