The Collector's Wife

Mitra Phukan, Penguin Books, 2005, pbk, iv, 349 p, ISBN : 8186706836, $30.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

The Collector's Wife/Mitra Phukan

"This is the story of Rukmini who is married to the District Collector of a small town in Assam, and teaches English Literature in the local college. On the surface her life is settled and safe, living in the big beautiful bungalow on the hill above the cremation ground, seemingly untouched by the toil and sufferings of the common folk below. Yet each time there is an 'incident' in the district, the fear and uncertainty that grips the town is reflected in her own life. The violent insurgency that grips Assam runs like a dark river through the novel and forms its backdrop.

The Assam students' agitation of the 1970s and 1980s that began as a movement for self-determination has grown into a full blown insurgency. Kidnappings, extortion, and political instability are the order of the day. The issue of illegal migration from across the border has spread mistrust and bitterness among the peoples of the region, and Rukmini's world is pervaded by this ever-present threat of violence. The meaninglessness of it all, the complexities that divide 'them' and 'us' and the point at which the two merge are all explored in this powerful novel.

The final denouement horrifying and yet true - for there can be no other 'end' to such a tale, where the personal is so densely interwoven with the political."

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