Yesterday I finished reading Inheritance by Balli Kaur Jaswal, a rich portrait of familial rivalry, alienation and loyalty. Amrit’s story in particular deftly captures the painful irony of so many children – so many girls and women – who become vehicles for ‘family reputation’: made to stand for so much, while being seen as so little. Her most ordinary movements held to senseless standards, scrutinised with a pettiness that sharpens into cruelty; but the real expanses of her inner experience negated, her need for help ignored.
The book itself shines its generous light into the worlds of its characters with deceptive ease, its passages gliding by frictionlessly but leaving telling details in their wake. I particularly enjoyed Gurdev carrying round the weight of his envy and his aspirations in over-priced pots of paint; and Amrit drinking water in small, deliberate sips under her family’s hostile gaze. A rewarding read: go get yourself a copy.