A woman arrives alone in Kolkata, taking refuge in a deserted apartment while she waits to undergo an unspecified surgery. In this disorienting city, everything seems new and strange: the pavement-dwellers outside her block, the collective displays of religiosity, the power cuts and alarming acts of arson. Her sense of identity already shaken, when she finds a stained pair of leopard print panties in the otherwise-empty wardrobe she begins to fantasise about their former owner, whose imagined life comes to blur with and overlap her own.
Pairing manic energy with dark eroticism, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay’s writing has a surreal, feverish quality, slipping between fluid subjects with great stylistic daring. Credited with being ‘the woman who reintroduced hardcore sexuality into Bengali literature’, Bandyopadhyay is neither superficial nor sensationalistic, equally concerned with debates on religion and nationhood as with gender and sexuality.
‘An unnerving, ominous and beautiful meditation on the loneliness of modern life.’
— The Guardian
‘Breaking taboos on female sexuality in a patriarchal society is a significant act in and of itself, but Panty’s sexual explicitness goes beyond mere iconoclasm. The female body, specifically including its erotic potential, is the linchpin of Bandyopadhyay’s probing of the limits of the self.’
— Music & Literature
‘A fevered dream of sex and selfhood. . . . Arunava Sinha, who is currently perhaps India’s most prolific literary translator, has produced a text that retains much of the author’s poesy.’
— Trisha Gupta, Asymptote
‘Bandyopadhyay conjures something illusive, erotic, and gorgeously warped: a fractured revelation of self, of city. But for all of its deft surrealistic flourishes, this fever dream of Kolkata is never less than deadly serious about engaging with contemporary India’s fragmented soul. An auspicious beginning for Tilted Axis.’
— Dustin Illingworth, Literary Hub
‘Panty is dreamlike yet visceral, surreal but intimate. In these fragments of life, loneliness, curiosity, defiance and sexuality blend to create an uneasy picture of contemporary India. Divided from themselves, Bandyopadhyay's beguiling creations are as fractured and incomplete as contemporary life itself.’
— Nina Power, author of One Dimensional Woman
‘Vivid, beguiling, passionate, and never less than urgent, with Panty, India has found its Ferrante. You must read this book.’
— Niven Govinden, author of All the Days and Nights
— Joanna Walsh, author of Vertigo