A new book aims to offer women an escape from the turbulent twenty-somethings

Kamini Patel’s The Morning After follows four girls as they undergo crises of various shades in their professional and personal lives. Neha, Lara, Sanya and Palak are all quite differently etched, but manage to stay good friends; when a ‘quarter-life crisis’ hits, they choose to address it by heading to Goa.

The book’s protagonist Neha works at a public relations firm, in what she sees as a dead-end job; she’s also ‘seeing’ boys for a potential arranged marriage. Lara is a fashion designer who struggles against ‘monstrous’ in-laws. Palak is a quiet, hard-working type who is about to move to a different country; Sanya is described as a ‘man-eater’. “There are four options. If you’re not one, you’re the other,” Kamini says. She was recently in the city to visit bookstores and promote the book.

The Morning After is, true to its title, structured as a series of drunken evenings and morning-afters, with the effects each drunken episode being described in detail. “The theme is a lot of partying,” Kamini acknowledges, and begins to giggle. “There is a lot of drinking and partying. But it is reality. It does happen.” Kamini studied International Relations in Boston, and then studied Law in Gujarat; she’s lived in Singapore, Boston and Dubai. She now wants to become a full-time writer.

The Morning After, published under Penguin’s ‘Metro Reads’ imprint, has characters set in a high-life world: when they’re not hitting watering holes, they’re reaching for Swarovski-embedded gowns for a social do. Kamini explains that she threw in the extravagance as she thought it would add fun to the novel’s proceedings. “At the end, the book is a story about hope. I’m not a fashionista…but most girls, they like designers. When they read that, they’d like it.”

Kamini sets the book among twenty-somethings because she sees it as a “particularly turbulent time”. “Especially with the choices available now, there are just too many options for what needs to be done,” she says, referring to a career conundrum she herself faced. “I wanted to write something every woman could relate to.”

The Morning After is targeted primarily at women, Kamini says. “Women who have a lifestyle, who go partying, who are independent, and are able to travel on their own.” But that’s probably a fairly small cross-section of readers. “It’s a lifestyle everyone knows about. If you don’t have that kind of life maybe you can learn about it,” she offers.

The book is also meant to be escapist, she says. “I think we have enough going on. Wake up in the morning and read a newspaper, there’s always so much negativity.” She sees her book as not belonging to the body of what she calls “heavy literature”. “Good literature is anything that’s well-written,” she disclaims. “The heavy one – the topics are more serious”.

She wants youngsters to consume more novels. “I think if somebody’s reading, it’s a good thing. Whether it’s Chetan Bhagat, or The Morning After, or Sylvia Plath. If they’re reading, it’s good.”

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