Tittle-Tattle of Tinigaon
Mukul Chaturvedi
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? A NOVEL by Mitra Phukan Speaking Tiger, 2023, 287 pp., INR 499
September 2023, volume 47, No 9

Small-town stories seem to be making big waves in the world of both fiction and film. Recent Bollywood films have their plot set in mofussil towns of UP, Bihar and the rural hinterlands of India. The stories are spicy, and the scope for scandal is much greater because of social strictures. The intimate world of a small town throws up characters that are identifiable because they’re more rooted, making the conflict between traditional worldview and modern lifestyle much more dynamic. Set in the hillocks of Tinigaon, a small town in Assam, What Will People Say?draws an endearing portrait of the town with such vivid details that it captures the spirit of the place and its hold on the lives of people. The novel revolves around the life of Mihika, a 56-year-old widow, who is caught up with aspirations of living a life that meets with disapproval. What people say and think of her forms the crux of Mihika’s being as she navigates her personal and professional lives.

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