You Beneath Your Skin Book Review
Damyanti Biswas’ debut novel, You Beneath Your Skin, takes you through the streets of a smoggy New Delhi and will send a shiver down your spine with every single turn it will take. It was a difficult read for me, because I can stomach crimes against women so much. Damyanti portrayed the brutalities against women in such sheer detail that no picture could do justice. This misogynistic world that women have to face every single day is brutal and hypocritical at the same time. What’s more? Victim blaming is so integral in our culture that our brains automatically reasons out some minor detail in order to excuse the perpetrator, lest his “career is destroyed” or “might bring shame to family”.
Damyanti, through Anjali Morgan, speaks on how easy it is for people to have an access to industrial grade sulfuric acid (even kids!) and how “A splash of acid can change the lives of so many people”. Biswas flirted with Autism and Vitiligo boldly enough to make them shine on the centre stage too, along with acid attacks, poverty, drug abuse and most importantly, love! Families, no matter how perfect they might seem from the outside, can have darkest of secrets with the potential of destroying everything.
The dirty politics played in the capital and Jatin in the midst of it, in order to save his job, gives a reality check on how cracked our system is. The beginning of the book failed to encompass my thoughts around the characters for the descriptions seemed too bland for me, but as the story progressed, I grew up with Nikhil and Sakhi and I started to worry about Jatin’s shoulder way too much. Jatin adorned the story with Shayari and I loved the fact that they were also translated for everybody to relish. The shift of language from English to Indian-English to uber-urban-rich-kids’-english to Bihari-English/Hindi was so smooth; it is difficult to believe that a single person wrote these characters.
But what I consider the crown jewel of this novel, is the fact that Biswas was extremely raw and unapologetically straight-forward when it came to putting women in limelight who have gone through rapes, acid attacks and mutilation for no fault of their own. One can start empathizing with the women and feel how unfair the society can be with them.
I am proud to mention the fact that all the proceeds to the author will go to the non-profits, Chaanv Foundation and Project WHY.