You Beneath Your Skin
One of my favorite things about blogging is the wonderful community of authors I’ve come to consider friends, authors from all over the world who are trying to make a difference in their communities by improving the social, economic or environmental landscape. One of these incredible individuals is Damyanti Biswas, author, blogger, social justice activist, and all-around awesome human. Her new novel, You Beneath Your Skin, is not only a great read but Damyanti is giving all the proceeds from its sale to Stop Acid Attacks, an organization that works to eliminate a terrible social condition that targets Indian women, no matter their caste.
I have so much to tell you about this wonderful book, its author, and her particular brand of voluntarism, that I’m going to do it in three or more parts. You want to see what real change looks like and ways that ordinary folks become extraordinary? Read on.
The narrative of Damyanti’s new novel, You Beneath Your Skin (Simon and Schuster — released September 2019), has been shaped by her years of interaction with women and children in these two organizations. Using a framework of a crime thriller, she conjures in this book an authentic portrayal of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption. A woman from Delhi upper classes suffers an acid attack, and this case is investigated amid the backdrop of a crime spree. Unclad bodies of slum women are found stuffed in trash bags, their faces disfigured with acid.
Project WHY’s journey began in 2000 with 40 children who wanted to learn spoken English and a handful of volunteers. Over the years, as the number of children increased, their demands multiplied, new teachers were discovered within tiny jhuggis and lanes, and ad-hoc classrooms found. They started their first after-school support program at Giri Nagar for children coming from underprivileged homes, and today through seven after-school support centers, they reach out to over 1100 children, 200 women and have created 50 job opportunities for people from the community. Their aim is to bridge the education gap for underprivileged children and improve their learning outcomes in a safe environment, as well as life-skills and all-round development for women.
Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) is a campaign against acid violence. This organization has been actively campaigning for the cause of acid attack survivors by continuously creating a dialogue with the political and legal system to bring about a social change. The survivor of an acid attack requires immediate medical, financial and psychological support on human grounds. But, the judicial procedures in this country do not assure any such intervention or help to the survivor until a court announces it. It is this loophole in the procedure of justice that they work on, by generating immediate medical and final support for the victims and providing them and their families the needed psychological and legal support. Using the visual medium, and engaging with their supporters worldwide through social media and the internet, they aim to sensitize and educate people about the gruesome nature of this crime, and the oppressive injustice of a gender-biased society.
Damyanti’s dedication to both causes has led her to donate her proceeds from the book You Beneath You Skin go to Project Why and Stop Acid Attacks. Earlier drafts of this novel were long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition and the Bath Novel Award, and the writing was helped by a grant from the National Arts Council of Singapore. Damyanti’s short stories have been published in anthologies and journals around the world, including Litro, Griffith Review, Bluestem, and others. She’s also one of the editors of the Forge Literary Magazine.
Her book was launched at the IIC Delhi on the 17th of September, where she was in conversation with well-known journalist Shutapa Paul.
On the 22nd September she was invited to the Odisha Literary Festival to speak on a panel with Ravi Shankar and Kishwar Desai, about crime novels that tackle social issues. She has also attended a panel with Gita Aravamudan, noted journalist, author and feminist where they discussed about crimes against women.
The book has already received fantastic early praise:
‘Biswas’s masterful You Beneath Your Skin is an intelligent page-turner that mixes a thrilling murder case with a profound psychological and sociological study of contemporary India.’ – David Corbett, award-winning author of The Art of Character
‘You Beneath Your Skin is a gripping tale of murder, corruption and power and their terrifying effects in New Delhi. Highly recommended.’ – Alice Clark-Platts, bestselling author of The Flower Girls
‘Suspenseful and sensitive, with characters negotiating serious issues of society, this crime novel will keep you awake at night!’ – Jo Furniss, bestselling author of All the Little Children and The Trailing Spouse
‘Gripping…crime fiction with a difference. This is a novel full of layers and depth, focusing on class and corruption in India with compassion and complexity.’ – Sanjida Kay, Author of psychological thrillers, Bone by Bone, The Stolen Child, My Mother’s Secret and One Year Later
‘You Beneath Your Skin – beautiful writing, strong characters and a story that will stay with me for a long time. Set in New Delhi, this novel tackles important issues as well as providing a tension-filled read.’- Jacqueline Ward, Bestselling author of Perfect Ten
Are you ready to read a gripping crime thriller? Hurry over to Amazon for a copy of You Beneath Your Skin today.
Social media contact info for Damyanti:
Pls tag me at @damyantig on Twitter and Insta, and on @damyantiwrites on FB
To tag Simon & Schuster
@SimonandSchusterIN : Insta
@SimonSchusterIN : Twitter
@Simon & Schuster IN: Facebook
@projectwhydelhi and @stopacidattacks on Twitter, Instagram and FB
Hashtag for all social media: #YouBeneathYourSkin
pam lazos – 12.8.19