Whispering Waves: a novel


Author: Sita Nanda,
Publisher: Tethys, an imprint of Yatra Books,
(Pp 300, ISBN 978-93-83125-22-7, Rs 599)

Written all of fifty years ago, this powerful mix of nostalgia and sharp social insights, Whispering Waves by Sita Nanda, brings alive the social milieu of upper middle class life in Bombay in the 60s. The indomitable and spirited Sita Nanda was a committed sportswoman in those days and led a busy social life. But through all this she worked passionately on her secret project of writing a heartfelt novel that tells the story of a young girl from Nainital, who encounters the exalted circles of Bombay’s art world through the maverick maestro, Mani Bannerji. The novel is an immersive experience, taking you back to the mores and manners of a society five decades past. The narrative follows young Gopi Thakur as she navigates the glamourous world of artists, film producers, media honchos, society matrons and socialites.

The most compelling feature of this unusual book is the courage shown by Sita Nanda in presenting this lost narrative at the age of 88. She is an inspiration to all first time writers and all those who keep their writing hidden away from the world. Sita Nanda says of her experience of seeing her book finally in print, “I can’t believe the book is finally in my hands!”

Others who have read the book, have this to say:

“Like sepia coloured photos in a treasure chest Sita Nanda’s novel, Whispering Waves, reveals stunning images of a bygone Bombay. Yet there is a distinct link with the energy of today’s ‘maximum city’, its cultural underpinnings, optimism and survival instincts. In the 1960’s setting of the story, India is still euphoric about its Independence from imperial rule but the vestiges of the inheritance show in the troubled conscience of people who have gained in prestige and power during colonialism. Could old hierarchies be overturned by a new democracy? Can social class be ignored? While this novel is not a manifesto for change, it beautifully pictures the dilemmas that arise in the new India of that time—heady with opportunities but unsure of values.” —Malashri Lal.

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