Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Archer: A Novel by Shruti Swamy

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

Shruti Swamy’s “rich, mesmeric” (Buzzfeed) story collection, A House is a Body, was one of last year’s most heralded debuts, a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the PEN/Robert Bingham Prize, and longlisted for the Story Prize. Now this young Indian-American talent has written her first novel, THE ARCHER (Publication Date: September 7, 2021; $26.95), a captivating, exquisitely-wrought coming-of-age story that explores a woman’s intricate relationship to art, culture, and tradition. “This is a singular work,” says Meng Jin, author of Little Gods, “a story of a dancer, and of a hungry self seated at the table of womanness and desire and art, told with unparalleled originality and elegance. Swamy writes with a thrilling clarity of vision that wakes the sleepwalker right into joyful consciousness.”


In 1970s Bombay, Vidya discovers a sense of self and ecstatic connection through Kathak, a precise form of classical dance that requires discipline and focus. Kathak becomes the defining force of Vidya’s life, even as she grapples with societal restrictions and the shadow of her brilliant, troubled mother, whose absence haunts her. Even when she leaves home for college, falls in love with her best friend, and tries to imagine a future that fits her defiant ambition, Vidya continues to find herself by dedicating herself to—and seeking the meaning of life from—this sensual art form with its transformative powers. 


“In the 1970s, Time Life did a coffee table book series of the great cities of the world,” Swamy recalls. “In the Bombay volume, which I looked at often as a child, there is a picture of the chaali during a festival, and you can see my grandparents, young, on the fourth floor. THE ARCHER takes place in the city in which my parents were young: a mythical place I have never visited, because it has entirely vanished under the sprawling metropolis that is now Mumbai. The mythic Bombay is of my invention, fed by the images from the Time Life book, the pictures of my parents in their youth, from the background of Hindi movies, and from all the stories I heard from my parents and relatives about their lives as children and young adults.”


Swamy, who counts two O. Henry Awards among her early honors, adapts to the novel form with grace and the assured hand of a master storyteller. She is “a writer to celebrate,” says Magha Majumdar, New York Times bestselling author of A Burning. “Her fiction is provocative, precise, and gorgeously inventive.” C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills is Gold, adds, “This novel swallowed me whole: lush and sensual, tasted and felt, with striking images that play out like film behind the eyes. THE ARCHER is timeless yet utterly modern as it asks what it means for a woman to make a life of art."

my thoughts:

Love, love, love. The Archer by Shruti Swamy is a beautiful story that uses language in such a smart and lyrical manner - I absolutely LOVED it!

Vidya discovers dance at an early age and falls in love with the rhythm, intimacy, and emotion of it. As she grows up and experiences societal pressures, her family's expectations, love, loss, and her own ambitions dance manages to find its way into her heart and schedule. She just can't abandon a discipline that makes her feel more alive and more herself. It's amazing to read about this strong and determined woman. 

Swamy has written a terrific story that will pull you in slowly and leave you wanting more. Her writing it top notch, her characters are unforgettable, and her story is unputdownable. The Archer is a must-read for anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you won't want to miss out on it! Check it out ASAP!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book!

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