TheNormal State of Mind, Parthian 2015
Set in India in the 90s, The Normal State of Mind tracks the lives of two women as they navigate societal norms, and defy them, to become inseparable friends and fulfilled individuals. First we join Dipali on her wedding night in Mumbai. She has married a man her family found in an ad., but beyond this convention their relationship is far from traditional. Next, we join Moushumi, about to embark on her first love affair in Calcutta. Against the odds, Dipali’s marriage is a success, for a time. Moushumi’s love is a little more complicated by India’s standards and soon tragedy sets these two women on a collision course. Indian society of the 90s might not consider either woman to be of a “Normal State of Mind”, but Susmita Bhattacharya’s debut novel evokes wonderfully a Mumbai as rich with potential and positive change as it is with sensual stimuli, and shows the power of friendship to enable women to overcome societal barriers to succeed on their own terms. Written with wit, warmth and wisdom; Bhattacharya draws a portrait of Mumbai that feels at once intimate and international - a state we can all relate to.