This debut novel is a murder mystery with a difference; set in Anglo-Indian Calcutta in 1960, it captures a fascinating culture which is both familiar and exotic at the same time.
It tells the story of a glamorous young widow whose ten-year-old son discovers the body of a corpse washed up on the banks of the Hooghly river. Mrs D’Silva’s investigations lead her into a dangerous underworld of political unrest, sexual exploitation, and simmering revolution.
A crowd gathered at Pages of Hackney bookshop to hear the author read a scene from the book in which Mrs D’Silva embarks on a railway journey from Calcutta to Lucknow.
Listening to Glen describe the chaotic departure from the station, the sharing of life stories over tiffin boxes filled with mouthwatering koftes and rice, and the complex negotiations required to secure a decent seat on the train, the audience were transported from Hackney to the Himalayas.
Following the reading, there was a long and lively discussion that touched on all aspects of writing the book, the politics of India past and present, the unique customs and cuisine of the Anglo-Indian community, colonial and post-colonial literature, and Glen’s personal experiences of growing up in sixties Calcutta before emigrating to Britain.
The animated chat continued outdoors in the back garden, where everyone enjoyed delicious vegetable samosas and pistachio milk sweets, along with their wine.
Held as part of Independent Booksellers’ Week, now in its second year, the evening was part of a series of events celebrating the place of bookshops in the local community.
Jessica Mordsley of Parthian, publishers of Mrs D’Silva…, said: “In a book-buying world increasingly dominated by one or two big commercial names, there is something very special about places like Pages and about events like this, when people can spend a summer’s evening being entertained and informed in the company of other book lovers.”
Pages of Hackney is hosting another Independent Booksellers Week event on Thursday 18 June, when Patrick Gale will be talking about The Whole Day Through.