I have no idea where I found Damyanti’s book, only that I was visiting Delhi at the time, which is the setting for her novel “You Beneath Your Skin.” Every moment we were not sightseeing I dived back in, observing the sights and sounds of the city which were so beautifully and honestly portrayed in her book. I was so impressed that I emailed her to tell her how much I’d loved the story. So, I am really thrilled to welcome her as my guest this week.
Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi’s underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog.
She also sends out monthly newsletters with book recommendations and writing resources, which you can grab here.
ABOUT THE NOVEL: YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster IN
Promotion: Free on Amazon Kindle in all markets from the 7th -11 th August
Optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine.
You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.
It is a whodunit, but also a whydunit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.
All the author proceeds from You Beneath Your Skin will support the education and empowerment of women at Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.
You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine, as announced by Hollywood Deadline.
Lies. Ambition. Family.
It’s a dark, smog-choked New Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.
Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.
Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all.
In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.
AUDIENCE FOR YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN:
Bookclubs, because of the discussion questions: Within the framework of a thriller the novel tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children, and the scourge of acid attacks.
Parents, because of the issues tackled: How do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IN ORDER TO RECEIVE SHARES OF YOUR POST:
To get shares, pls tag at @damyantig on Twitter and Insta.
@SimonandSchusterIN : Insta
@SimonSchusterIN : Twitter
@Simon & Schuster IN: Facebook
@projectwhydelhi and @stopacidattacks on Twitter, Instagram and FB
Damyanti also sent me the following:-
Do You Like Your Stories Read to You?
Some of my earliest memories are of my grandma reading to me—poetry she herself had written, and of course the great Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The winters at my childhood home in central India were balmy, but the summers could get blazing hot, 45 degrees in the shade. On those summer afternoons, sitting next to a cooling fan that gave off more noise than air, my grandma would read slowly in Bengali, my mother tongue, which I could speak, but neither read nor write. The words on the page looked like insects gone for walks, and yet they contained such magic and so much life.
Stories meant grandma’s wrinkly animated face, bright eyes, and the way her loose bun of hair slid this way and that as she described the slaying of a demon or a monkey-god carrying a mountain. I came to know much later that in those years, she battled cancer, a fight she lost when I was eleven.
When I read books I sometimes experience them like four-dimensional movies—complete with colours, music, scent, taste and texture, but nothing like those childhood afternoons with my grandmother. When audiobooks first grew mainstream, I picked them up and was disappointed. Perhaps the stories were not familiar, the readers not skilled enough, or my expectations too high. I would start listening but get side-tracked with my thoughts—especially when I listened to audiobooks in bed. My bed is my reading joint—I like curling up under the sheets and getting lost in a different world.
I’ve gone back to audiobooks time and again, and each time I’ve found myself getting lost. Sometimes I want to skip the dragging bits and end up skipping important parts as well. I have to rewind and play it again a few times before I understand what’s going on. Once in a while, a good one comes along: I’ve recently enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing—possibly because it is so atmospheric, the voice of the character so strong that it is hard to lose track.
Stories were, after all, an entirely oral form once, until they turned into theatre, into choral performances. Written stories came much later. With an increasingly busy life, I have less and less time set aside for reading: the pandemic ensures that I have an entirely new set of chores, and writing deadlines loom. I’ve decided to try more audiobooks now, find the ones that hold my interest and thus keep me ‘reading’ books even as I go for my daily walks, or cook or clean or fold clothes.
My own debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin, has been optioned for TV screens and might turn into an audiobook as well, one of these days. Maybe some day I’ll get to listen to Anjali and Jatin’s adventures in New Delhi, their story spread across slums and malls, bedrooms and hotels, police stations and hospitals, all enveloped by the choking smog of a Delhi winter.
When that happens, I’ll know whether the love of stories that my grandma gave me has borne fruit. She was married at thirteen to a man much older than her, suffered many miscarriages before giving birth to my father and aunt, and over the years of encouraging them to study, taught herself to read. She learned enough that she read the classics in our mother tongue and wrote her own poetry, snippets of which lie fading in my cupboards, carefully wrapped in plastic.
In the meanwhile, I’ll try and read what books I can fit into my life, and listen to audiobooks if one catches my fancy. As I grow older though, I find that very few of them stand up to the dynamic, vivacious narrations by my grandmother who, while herself suffering from cancer, took time out to keep her grand-daughter entertained on those long Indian summer afternoons.
I wonder how many of us remember having stories told to us when we were little? Thank you so much for being my guest today Damyanti and I look forward to seeing your book on my television screen soon!
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Take care and stay safe.