CHAT Kausalya Saptharishi on her new book Mom in the City and the uses of ‘mom-lit’
When Kausalya Saptharishi became a mother, she started reading a lot of ‘mom-lit’, a genre that focusses exclusively on the travails of the modern mother. Wanting to “explore the drama of motherhood through a cast of eclectic characters”, she has come up with Mom in the City (Random House India).
The book tells the story of Iravati Krishna, an editor at a renowned publishing house specialising in titles on relationships. Ironically, she is left by her husband Arun, following which she relocates from New York to Delhi, and enrols her young son Abhi at Bumblebees, a posh playschool in Lutyens’ Delhi. This proves a life-altering decision for her; the other mothers, with their opulence and quirks, are nothing like Ira. Fearing social ostracism, and in an attempt to fit in with the clique, Ira lies about her marriage, and has to then deal with its repercussions.
Like her protagonist, Kausalya is an editor at a publishing house, and lives in Delhi. “But it is pure fiction inspired by my experiences as a mother. Delhi is the city I am most familiar with. I wouldn’t have been able to write it with so much honesty had I set it in Mumbai, Bangalore or Chennai. The overall thread is universal, and it is common to all Indian metros — it’s about real moms, and how they identify with certain experiences in life.”
Mom-lit is just as it sounds — updated chick lit. “In chick lit you have a trophy girlfriend, and how she explores love. And the trophy girlfriend has now become a trophy wife. I wanted to show that transition in the book,” says Kausalya, who has previously written The TamBrahm Bride .
While most parenting books are non-fiction, Kausalya feels “it is time that we also share stories in fiction about today’s moms… We are vastly different from the generation of our mothers we are not afraid to speak our mind, we are also more aware of what’s going in society. Life’s experiences have taught us to be more vocal about issues.”
She admits that mom-lit is a convenient nomenclature and a marketing tool, but at the same time it’s an introspective genre. “It tries to tackle serious issues with humour.”
As an editor and a writer, Kausalya says it is difficult to manage time. leads “On one hand I am dealing with authors, and on the other I myself am an author…I edit as I write. I revise as much as possible before sending my manuscript.”
She is now working on another novel, and a sequel to this book. But her most important role, she says, is that of a mother.