Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-19
- Reviewer: Staff
In her fifth collection, Kapil (Schizophrene) offers an uncategorizable look at an afternoon in April 1979, when a dark-skinned girl named Ban is walking home from school through a suburb (banlieue in French) of London at the start of a race riot. She hears breaking glass and “understands the coming violence has begun. Is it coming from the far-off street or is it coming from her home? Knowing that either way she’s done for—she lies down to die.” Though Ban is fictional, her historical context is not; the immigrant suburbs of late-1970s London function both as a setting and a manner of “detailing—which is to say: scouring/burnishing—the world grew up in.” The project is presented as an abandoned novel that reads as a document of Kapil’s expansive and varied process of researching, planning, and writing. “A brown girl on the floor of the world” is the central image, and the porous relationship between Ban’s story and the story of Kapil writing and thinking about Ban is fundamental throughout. Kapil casts and recasts descriptions of Ban alongside documentation of the author’s own acts of lying down, undertaken through performances, protests, and somatic exercises. The result is a complex and deeply engaged “literature that is not made from literature.” (Feb.)