Some books suck you into nostalgia. These books persistently remind you the tastes and the sounds and the touches from your past. Along come the waves of bittersweet memories. One such book I came across is Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale. This book is published by Westland publications and was among the long list for The JCB prize for literature 2019.

The book follows the story of Irawati. It is set in 1990s, Mumbai. As Bombay slowly becomes Mumbai, we see the new working class of Mumbaikars emerging. We see the struggles of the middleclass Mumbaikars. And in midst of all of this we see the struggle of a woman to hold her grounds and to calmly fight back patriarchy and casteism. And then there is her bestfriend Kartik, the eligible bachelor, who is fighting his own battle.

Let me begin by saying that this book is much more than just the story of Ira and Kartik. It is an intricately crafted ensemble displaying the life of Mumbaikars. I found myself totally invested in Asha Nivas and Ira’s world. The characters are picked up from everyday life – typical and lovable. The book describes the Bombay and the Mumbai I always long to sink myself in. It gives a warm retro feel and evokes nostalgia. It speaks of the time when the plush Bombay of elites became the Mumbai of the hardworking middleclass, and simultaneously turned on its side to envelope itself with a blanket of sky kissing buildings. The book is a subtle commentary on patriarchy folded in seamlessly in the lives of its characters. Romance too finds a space for itself in this grid of life. The love story of Kaiz and Ira is appealing. As also this book is an amalgamation of social commentary, political chaos and history of Mumbai’s architecture.

Coming to the technicalities….

The book is very well knit and the story is simplistically told. What won me over was the language of the book. The language makes you ponder – the words, the phrases are like red, juicy, and at times raw, apples plucked out of the tree. We see flashbacks throughout the book and sometimes that can be a bit choppy. Certain things are quite predictable, especially about Kartik’s character.

Overall, I think that every 90s kid from Mumbai will relate to this book. This book has a beautiful and satisfying aftertaste. It stays with you for long.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Westland Publications
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