Book Review: ‘Provincials’ by Sumana Roy

Exploring the heartland of identity and belonging

Book Title: Provincials: Postcards from the Peripheries
Author: Sumana Roy
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-8119635771
Date Published: May 3, 2024
Price: INR 718

Provincials by Sumana Roy Book Cover

Book Review

Sumana Roy embarks on a subversive examination of provincial life in “Provincials: Postcards from the Peripheries,” bringing together the tales of a varied range of individuals to question the dominance of metropolis narratives. Roy highlights the fun, playfulness, and persistence of folks who wear their provinciality as a birthmark in a collection of “postcards” spanning countries and decades. From literary titans like Rabindranath Tagore to cultural icons like Kishore Kumar, she embraces the richness of provincial life, painting a different picture of the modern world.

Roy’s novel combines literary, sensory, and emotional history with autobiographical to transport readers to a world where being provincial may be both a source of joyful dignity and a constant source of inadequacy. Roy uses beautiful language and vivid images to create moments of profound insight and meditation, even if some readers may find the book difficult to read because of its meandering structure and thick syntax. “Provincials” is a work that merits reflection and patience, ranging from personal childhood memories to more general thoughts on language and identity.

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Provincials” has moments of astounding clarity and beauty despite its sporadic complexity. Roy’s skill at creating vivid pictures and her capacity to arouse nostalgia combine to create a reading experience that is incredibly absorbing. Roy’s text resonates with honesty and complexity, prompting readers to consider the relationships between location, identity, and memory—whether she is narrating childhood recollections or delving into the nuances of language and pronunciation.

While “Provincials” is not a book to be devoured in one sitting, its moderate pacing and thought-provoking ideas make it an enjoyable companion for patient, meditative reading. Whether rereading old parts or discovering new connections, readers will be attracted back to Roy’s exquisite words time and again. In an age dominated by urban viewpoints, “Provincials” provides a much-needed celebration of the depth and complexity of provincial life, reminding us of the timeless power of tales to change our vision of the world.

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