The Yogini by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay
Translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha
Published by Tilted Axis Press, 2019
Rating: ⭐ ⭐
The more time I take to mull this one over, the more I come to realise it’s a novel I wanted to like more than I actually did. There are lots of great ingredients in the mix: a strong opening scene; a great initial concept; a flawed, interesting heroine; a focus on the idea of fate versus freewill; critique of the roles women are expected to fulfil; and solid prose. The trouble for me was the execution, which felt too contrived for me to ever feel drawn in.
In terms of plot, we follow Homi, whose seemingly stable life begins to fall apart when she becomes aware of a yogi; the figure of a man, visible only to her, who stalks her every move and claims to be a physical manifestation of her fate. This is a striking concept, and I was certainly intrigued enough to want to know how her story would culminate. Sadly, too many scenarios and exchanges of dialogue felt manufactured to conveniently steer the book forward. It was neither believable enough to feel real, nor strange enough to stand as outright magical realism or fantasy; landing instead in an odd sort of limbo that ultimately left me feeling underwhelmed.
I enjoyed enough of the elements at play to keep an eye out for more of the author’s work, and requiring just two sittings to get through, it was certainly a pacy read. That said, after such a strong setup, I can’t help but wonder how much more haunting the book could have been had I clicked with it stylistically.