Priya Parmar's novel in NYT's 100 most notable books of 2015
Indian-origin author Priya Parmar's novel about acclaimed painter Vanessa Bell and her more famous sister English writer Virginia Woolf has been named by New York Times in its annual prestigious list of 100 most notable books of 2015
New York: Indian-origin author Priya Parmar's novel about acclaimed painter Vanessa Bell and her more famous sister English writer Virginia Woolf has been named by New York Times in its annual prestigious list of 100 most notable books of 2015.
'Vanessa and Her Sister', a novel on Woolf and Bell, constructed around an invented diary and letters, has made it to the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015, with the influential publication calling Parmar's "fabricated journal" of the sisters an "uncanny success".
NYT said, "Parmar's fabricated journal is an uncanny success. Its entries, plausible and graceful, are imbued with the same voice that can be found in letters by or about Vanessa."
Parmar's portrait brings noted modernist English writer Woolf's sister "Vanessa out of the shadows, into fully realised, shining visibility," the influential daily said in its book review.
In the novel, "Parmar gives truth and definition to the character of a woman whose nature was as elusive as her influence was profound. She has caught the phantom," the NYT review of the novel said. Woolf was the more famous sibling even though Bell was accomplished in her right.
"The world remembers Virginia better than her enigmatic older sister: Parmar restores the symmetry of their relationship in the familial landscape, showing how essential Vanessa's steadying force was to Virginia's precarious balance," the review said.
Bell was only two-and-a-half years older than Woolf but took on a maternal role for her and their two brothers in 1895, after their mother's death, when she was not yet 16.
NYT said since Woolf expressed herself through literature, and not painting, her history and internal life have been easier to access than Bell's.
"After immersing herself in the thousands of letters exchanged by Vanessa's social circle, Parmar proceeded to invent a diary for Vanessa, along with a series of letters, postcards and telegrams that bring dimension and vitality to her headstrong entourage," the review said.
"And Parmar's decision to interleave the invented diary with invented correspondence heightens the authentic feel of the portrait," the review added.