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Exquisite Cadavers Reviews

Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy

Exquisite Cadavers

Meena Kandasamy

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: Fiction
Imprint: Atlantic Books
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication date: 7 Nov 2019
ISBN: 9781786499653

A slim, inventive novella that questions what divides fiction and memoir - Exquisite Cadavers is a bricolage of influence and a daring modernist short.

4 stars out of 5
21 Nov 2019

"A surprising, gripping experiment that works"

The key question about Exquisite Cadavers, however, is does all of this work? Does it show, as Kandasamy quotes Derrida saying, that “literature is the most interesting thing in the world, maybe more interesting than the world”? That is the hardest question to answer, because the terms are that it should be an experiment – there has never been a book quite like this. Better to ask, then, whether it surprises, grips, makes the reader take notice – all those things literature is supposed to do – to which the answer is, easily, yes, yes, and yes again.


4 stars out of 5
1 Nov 2019

"Meena Kandasamy takes an experimental approach to her novel about a troubled married couple"

Exquisite Cadavers is deeply lyrical, with space given for thoughts to build. Written in the omniscient third person, the main narrative flips between Maya and Karim’s perspective. Kandasamy zooms in, focusing on their dynamic rather than action. Karim is too fixed, Maya too malleable. Film tropes recur: Karim seeing through a filmic lens, Maya judging her life through films. With the writer present on the page, every choice feels driven. The result is an exploration of how discrimination can pull and pick at intimacy. Kandasamy’s presence only enhances the fiction; her sense of life and art introducing a never-ending conversation between writer, text and reader.

4 stars out of 5
1 Oct 2019

"Indian political horrors alternate with domestic London life in an innovative tale that fuses reality and fiction"

Their narrative acquires weight from the annotations, which document Kandasamy’s struggle watching political events from afar, seeing friends killed and arrested. She grew up in Tamil Nadu and became a leftwing activist, but now lives in London. Kandasamy worries about absenting herself from the fight and the inadequacy of fiction: “My concerns and my solidarity align with the oppressed and the exploited. And yet, creating art under capitalism, I sit here, playing with form, with format, with fonts.” She craves the “refuge” fiction can provide, but recognises the need to bear witness to reality.