“A chaotic, furious, extraordinary Bengali confection...Irresistible.” -- Philip Hensher, Man Booker–shortlisted author of The Northern Clemency
“A feminist, fractured fairy tale…this is a story that lingers.” – NPR
"The book is a riot, a sprightly thriller that will make you not only want to discover more Bengali cultural norms of the vintage era but also create rational stirrings within you to go look up more of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s works." -- World Literature Today
A laugh-out-loud, tug-at-your-heartstrings tale of love, family, and freedom centered around three generations of Bengali women.
Somlata has just married into the dynastic but declining Mitra family. At eighteen, she expects to settle into her role as a devout wife in this traditional, multi-generational family. But then Somlata, wandering the halls of the grand, decaying Mitra mansion, stumbles upon the body of her great aunt-in-law, Pishima.
A child bride widowed at twelve, Pishima has finally passed away at the ripe old age of seventy. But she isn’t letting go just yet. Pishima has long harbored a grudge against the Mitras for keeping her in perpetual widowhood, never allowed to fall in love.. Now, her ghost intends to meddle in their lives, making as much mischief as possible. Pishima gives Somlata the keys to her mysterious box of gold to keep it out of the Mitras’ hands. However, the selfless Somlata, witnessing her new family waste away their wealth to the brink of bankruptcy, has her own ideas.
Boshon is a book-loving, scooter-riding, rebellious teenager who wants nothing to do with the many suitors that ask for her hand. She yearns for freedom and wants to go to college. But when her poor neighbor returns from America she finds herself falling in love. Perhaps Pishima’s yearning spirit lives on in her own her heart?
The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a frenetic, funny, and fresh novel about three generations of Mitra women who are surprising at every turn and defy all expectations. They may be guarding a box of gold, but they are the true treasures in this gem of a novel.
Translated from the Bangla by Arunava Sinha