Eating Wasps review: The many shades of desire

Anita Nair is probably India’s most popular and prolific writer. She spins stories with dazzling speed and intensity. Eating Wasps is vintage Nair, who excels in writing passionately and sensitively about women. Nair has spent her career using the veil of fiction to explore their inner worlds. Thus, she dabbles in subjects like love and its complexity, duty, family, jealousy, desire, marriage, motherhood and the longing for freedom.

The book compellingly deals with a suicide. The narrator, Sreelakshmi—a writer, spinster and professor of zoology—kills herself on a Monday, “a working day”. Her index finger is kept in a cupboard with a false back, so that her lover Markose can keep her hidden away like he did while she was alive. This cupboard and Sreelakshmi’s story become entangled with the story of many women. There is Urvashi, a successful journalist, who looks outside her marriage to try and find herself. There is Meghna, a young girl who is violated because of desire. And then there is Najma, who is a victim of desire.

Her heroines, as in her previous books, are real, and not air-brushed or cookie-cutter. They are survivors, strong but flawed.

The book is dark, disturbing in parts, and contemporary. Sreelakshmi’s story of love and desire that drove her to madness serves as a reminder of how, even today, women bear the shame of expressing desire. But it is heartbreak that Nair excels at. She writes about it evocatively. Sreelakshmi is difficult to get out of your mind. And so is her story.


Author: Anita Nair

Publisher: Context,

Pages 256

Price: Rs 599