Avni Doshi AUTHOR AN ODE TO MOTHERS
Travel+Leisure India|March 2021
In her Booker-shortlisted debut novel, Burnt Sugar, Avni Doshi effortlessly weaves together complex narratives of memory loss, motherhood, and trauma. She speaks to SUMEET KESWANI about the book’s inspiration, her connection with Pune, and the evolving idea of home.
SUMEET KESWANI

What inspired the themes of the book: dementia and motherhood?

My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about five years ago. The tension between beauty of an almost poetic nature and terror is something that exists in my experience of her as she continues to deteriorate. She can go from blissful and childlike to enraged and paranoid in moments— and we can only watch with our hearts in our throats. I suppose I wanted to capture some part of that. But Burnt Sugar began as an investigation of mothers and daughters, and the different aspects of this relationship. In a sense, a mother is the first god you encounter at birth, the source of attachment, nourishment—and also as an archetype, she activates something powerful in the psyche. How, then, can a negative mother complex play out, how can it become an obsession, the centre of a child’s life, and how they negotiate all their subsequent relationships? Also, how do we become our mothers, and isn’t it inevitable that we will?

Which writers have shaped your journey?

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