Small Deaths

A Death in Shonagachhi

Publication: 2021

Author: Rijula Das

In the red-light district of Shonagachhi, Lalee dreams of trading a life of penury and violence for one of relative luxury as a better-paid ‘escort’. Her long-standing client, Trilokeshwar ‘Tilu’ Shau is an erotic novelist hopelessly in love with her.

When a young girl who lives next door to Lalee gets brutally murdered, a spiral of deceit and crime begins to disturb the fragile stability of this underworld’s existence. One day, without notice, Lalee’s employer and landlady, the formidable Shefali Madam, decrees that she must now service wealthier clients at plush venues outside the familiar walls of the brothel. But the new job is fraught with unknown hazards and drives Lalee into a nefarious web of prostitution, pimps, sex rings, cults and unimaginable secrets that endanger her life and that of numerous women like her. As the local Sex Workers’ Collective’s protests against government and police inaction and calls for justice for the deceased girl gain fervour, Tilu Shau must embark on a life-altering misadventure to ensure Lalee does not meet a similarly savage fate.

Set in Calcutta’s most fabled neighbourhood, A Death in Shonagachhi is a literary noir as absorbing as it is heart-wrenching, holding within it an unforgettable story of our society’s outcasts and marking the arrival of a riveting new writer.

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Original Language

ENGLISH (Indian subcontinent) | Picador India
ENGLISH | Amazon Crossing

Reviews

“Rijula Das surprises you with everything in this book. The writing, the scenes, the characters, the story. A debut you cannot stop reading.” Arunava Sinha.

“Addictive and hilarious. Rijula Das is a writer to watch.” Avni Doshi, author of Burnt Sugar, Shortlisted to The Booker Prize.