This article is part of a long running series in which Katherine updates us on the progress of her #readingaroundtheworld challenge.
Caught by love, a young woman marries a dashing university professor. A Marxist and former revolutionary, he seems to her the ideal choice and when she moves to a rain-washed coastal town to be with him she has no idea of what is yet to come. For behind her husband’s liberal façade is a carefully hidden sadism and behind closed doors she discovers that her perfect husband is a perfect monster. As he sets about battering her into obedience she finds that, for her family, her life is worth less than honour, reputation and potential social condemnation. Pressured by them to stay in the marriage and in fear for her life, she swears to fight back. It is a resistance that will either kill her or set her free.
A memoirist novel, based in part on the author’s own experiences, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife is both a powerful evocation of one woman’s fight for freedom and a reflection of the damaging impact of traditions of gender, caste and class in contemporary Indian society.
Meena Kandasamy was born in 1984 to Tamil parents. Following in her parents footsteps who were both university professors, Kandasamy went on to complete a doctorate in socio-linguistics from Anna University, Chennai. As a writer, Kandasamy’s work focuses mainly on caste annihilation, feminism and linguistic identity. Amongst other work including translation, Kandasamy has published the poetry collections Touch and Ms Militancy, as well as the novels, The Gypsy Goddess and the more recent Exquisite Cadavers. When I Hit You was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize in 2018.
When I Hit You is a beautifully lyrical story that explores the line between a contract of love and a contract of ownership. Described as a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos, When I Hit You is a dissection of what love means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence.