Overwinter is a startlingly accomplished first novel, a stunning debut. Ratika Kapur ventures bravely into terrain where seasoned writers fear to tread, adeptly handling the nuances of incestuous love with sure and nimble prose.
Ketaki’s need and longing for Deepak Uncle, who lies comatose, leads her to fitfully seek other men, closer her own age, in casual sexual encounters. Handsome Deepak Uncle can no longer give her the devotion he once did, one that he denied his bitter, lonely wife, her own Neera Masi. But be it Ketaki’s standby lover, Krishan, or the courting Siddharth, she is unfulfilled. Kapur draws you into her existentialist dilemma which takes on the suspense of a thriller.
South Delhi’s elite Defence Colony, Lodi gardens, Khan Market, Okhla Barrage, and Gymkhana Club form the backdrop but it’s not about the loneliness of two upper-middle-class Delhi women, nor of the secret that keeps them apart. But in its artful unravelling, a delicate, tenuous web is woven within which these intricate relationships are caught.
Amongst today’s deluge of bestselling writers, Kapur’s voice rings with a rare integrity. And like a slow river reaching its estuary, the truth is finally revealed: the haunting betrayal of the two mute spectators—Ketaki’s father in New York and her Neera Masi in Delhi. Will Deepak’s death bring release, maybe new relationships, a new home, a healing?
Overwinter’s freedom of choice for today’s young is more complex and challenging than we would allow for.