01 June 2013

ABOUT THE STORY Marriage is indubitably about many real things, such as money, children, food and in-laws. But it is also a story jointly made up by two narrators, a story that is continuously being confirmed or contested by one or the other side. Marital conversation is often subtly martial.

In Aseem Kaul’s ‘Liar’, we see the imagined meanings of a small accident between spouses in bed begin to ramify unstoppably. Both husband and wife are completely well-meaning, but powerless when pressured by the structures and expectations of narratives circulating around them: narratives about gender, domestic violence, self-help, and confession.

Alongside Kuzhali Manickavel, Kaul is the most resolute and sophisticated minimalist in Indian writing in English today. His (implied) narrator is impatient with the traditional narratorial duties of introduction, explication and running commentary. By giving us only the two voices speaking to one another, he returns fiction to a space of dramatic intensity and jaggedness often lost in the plodding, over-explaining gestures of realist narration today. And in doing so, he also demands of the reader the kind of close attention, both horrified and fascinated, that children might summon when attending to the quarrels of their own parents.

Aseem Kaul is the author of études (Tranquebar, 2009).

Keywords: fiction Indian English writing minimalism short story