Only a Lodger . . . And Hardly That
A Fictional Autobiography
6 x 9 inches, 312pp, 9 halftones June 2019
ISBN : 9780857426468
Rs 699.00 (HB)
Writing stories about our ancestors is a way to learn about and mould our identity. With this conviction, Vesna Main subtly strings five narratives into a rich, deep and delightful novel: Only a Lodger . . . And Hardly That.
In 'The Eye/I,' we meet someone called She, who obsessively tells the story of her childhood and adolescence to an unnamed narrator. 'The Acrobat' is a sequence of prose poems, written in the style of magic realism, which tell the story of Maria and her life-changing adolescent encounter with a flying circus performer. The female protagonist of the first section narrates 'The Dead', describing the secret life of a grandfather she never truly knew and his unusual habit of sending family members anonymous parcels of carefully chosen books. In 'The Poet', she examines four family photographs in order to piece together a story of her other grandfather, the husband of Maria. The final section, 'The Suitor', is a first-person narrative told by Mr Gustav Otto Wagner, an older man who hoped to marry Maria but was ultimately turned down.
Mixing narrative styles and diverse voices, Main creates a vivid picture of a family that appeals to all of us who have wondered where we came from and how that past has shaped who we are today.
Vesna Main was born in Zagreb, Croatia. She is a graduate of comparative literature and holds a PhD from the Shakespeare Institute, Birmingham. A lecturer at universities in Nigeria and the UK, she also worked at the BBC and as a college teacher. Main has written for numerous journals and published two novels, A Woman with No Clothes On and The Reader the Writer. Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines; a collection, Temptation, A User's Guide, was published in December 2017.