Love the Dark Days
by Ira Mathur
This frank, fearless and multi-layered debut centers on a privileged but dysfunctional Indian family, with themes of empire, migration, race, and gender. The Victorian India elephant in the room in Ira Mathur’s silk-swathed memoir Love The Dark Days is in chains. By the time calypso replaces the Raj in post-colonial Trinidad, the chains are off three generations of daughters and mothers in a family in their New World exile. But they are still stuck in place and enduring insecurity and threats, seen and unseen. Set in India, England, Trinidad and a weekend in St Lucia, with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott Love the Dark Days follows the story of a girl, Poppet, of mixed middle-class Hindu and Elite Muslim parentage from post-independent India to her family’s migration to post-colonial Trinidad. Profoundly raw, unflinching, layered, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity, Love the Dark Days reassembles the story of a disintegrating Empire.
“Glorious writing full of hard-won wisdom. A transcendent memoir about extremes of love and hate, princely wealth and the rebellious, righteous poor. I loved it.” —Maggie gee
“Moving from pre-Independence India to Trinidad and London, we see the growing pains of the author, as she decodes her rela-tionships with her glamorous parents, her beautiful piano-playing authoritative grandmother and her two siblings. In a world between poverty and privilege, she is guided by Derek Walcott and Naipaul is ever-present. Ultimately, she has to find her own voice, her own truth and reconciliation. A window into a world, rich in history, that few know about. A compelling read.”—Shrabani baSu
“A blaze of a book, a Caribbean feminist memoir that examines inherited patriarchal abuse of women and societal norms brought from the Old World to the New. This exquisitely written memoir examines familial love and fateful blood ties while scrutinising, with compassion, a flawed patriarch and magus too, Derek Walcott. Mathur deftly yokes together parallel worlds, colonial India and post-colonial Trinidad. Both worlds are dark, and both worlds hurt women.” —Monique roffey
“Mathur brings alive startling episodes from her technicolour life, proving truth is not just stranger but often more compelling than fiction. There is a sense of her burning through her days, reckless, raw, passionate at times. For all that, she offers the embers of her life with a rarely found wisdom. An exquisite, compassionate, and necessary book.” —amanda Smyth
“One of the most powerful and exciting new voices in contemporary literature. Love the Dark Days is an extraordinary, multi-lay- ered memoir, drawing threads from the colonial past into a moving, contemporary story of fragile relationships. Ira Mathur is a real find.” —David Haviland
“What marvellous and heartrending crossroads multiplied during the twentieth century. Between east, west, north, and south; many kinds of ancient and untold modes of modern; from ‘man’ and ‘woman’ to vulnerable beings of imagination and heart… Over the years I have witnessed Ira Mathur navigating an all too human writer’s life, I have yearned for her to put something of her beauty, wisdom and pain into print. Here it is. Stranger and more compelling than any fantasy, here we are.”—Vahni (anthony ezekiel) Capildeo
“This brave and inspiring feminist critique of patriarchy and gender oppression has wonderful promise as a biting movie adaptation for the #MeToo era.” —Etan VleSSing, Hollywood Reporter
“I was transported by this gem of a memoir, written over even years by an award-winning, Indian-born journalist, dubbed the “Jon Snow”of Trinidad. Set in her home nation, but also in St Lucia, India and London, it’s a multi-layered ac- count of a woman growing to feminist maturity while grappling with the ongoing traumas that result from her turbulent childhood. With many memorable characters, including her formidable grandmother Burrimummy, it also features Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who was a mentor of her work. Monique Roffey is spot on when she calls it a “blaze of a book.”—Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller
“A compelling memoir of the binding power of love and the liberating beauty of forgiveness.” —Earl Lovelace
About the Author:
Ira Mathur is an Indian-born Trinidadian award winning multimedia journalist with degrees in Literature, Law and Journalism. She is currently the Trinidad Guardian’s longest-running columnist, and has freelanced for The Guardian (UK) and the BBC. In 2021 Mathur was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award for her unpublished novel Touching Dr Simone. In 2019 Mathur was longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. In 2018 she shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize, the Lorian Hemmingway (short story) and Small Axe Literary Competition. Mathur gained diplomas in creative writing at the University of East Anglia/Guardian.