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Set in Samrat Updhyay's signature and timeless Nepal The City Son offers a vivid portrait of a scorned woman's lifelong obsession to get revenge for her husband's infidelity with devastating ramifications for an impressionable young manAcclaimed and award winning author Samrat Upadhyay—the first Nepali born fiction writer writing in English to be published in the West—has crafted a spare understated work examining a taboo subject a scorned wife’s obsession with her husband’s illegitimate son When Didi discovers that her husband the Masterji has been hiding his beautiful lover and their young son Tarun in a nearby city she takes the Masterji back into her grasp and expels his second family Tarun’s mother heartsick and devastated slowly begins to lose her mind and Tarun turns to Didi for the mothering he longs for But as Tarun gets older Didi’s domination of the boy turns from the emotional to the physical and the damages she inflicts spiral outward threatening to destroy Tarun’s one true chance at true happiness Potent disturbing and gorgeously stark in its execution The City Son is a novel not soon forgotten

10 thoughts on “The City Son

  1. says:

    Gross I read the entire book just because I felt that as long as I didn't finish it Tarun would be trapped between the pages and may continue to be sexually abused by his stepmother I freed himThe City Son is a story of sexual abuse within a family In this case the perpetrator is a wrathful village woman who walked in on her husband while he chose to live with his second wife and their son in the city The scorned woman soon began domineering the household and subjected her hapless stepson to emotional and sexual abuse Her husband withdrew into his shell his second wife lost her mind and others chose to turn a blind eye to the perversion The dismal plot made it a tough read as I couldn't help but feel sorry for most of its characters Too many lives ruined in the name of lust and revenge

  2. says:

    I read for Nepal in my endless uest to read a book from or set in every country The author was born in Nepal and writes in EnglishMajor trigger warning here for pervasive child sexual assault Tarun is the city son because his father has had a child with a woman in the city and when his non city wife finds out she turns her abusive focus on the son starting a very uncomfortable pattern that continues into his teens and even his adult life I wish the author could have left of it off the page and I wish the story could have been about than this Even not having read it I would recommend his book of short stories over this

  3. says:

    The City Son is a hard hitting book one that punches the reader right between the eyes and then does it again Its content matter is horrific but the writer knows what he is talking about as he describes a young boy groomed to be sexually abusedDidi and her two sons live in the country Her husband The Masterji is a learned teacher who lives in the city and often doesn't come home for a year at a time As the book opens someone comes to Didi and tells her that her husband has another wife and child in the city The child is described as 'beautiful' Didi picks up and heads to the city and walks in on her husband and his second wife Apsara and Aspara's son Tarun Didi uickly takes over all the household duties like cooking cleaning and even the raising of Tarun whom she calls her ownDidi's arrival and her manner of being make Aspara so distraught that with time she loses her mind and becomes too mentally ill to care for Tarun Tarun is in Didi's care and she uickly begins to treat him like a lover than a child He is only about ten years old or even younger when the book starts but Didi begins sexual play with him right away The sexuality of their relationship continues up till Tarun's twenties and even after he is married His obsession with Didi is so profound that he is unable to consummate his marriageThe novel shows how a child is groomed into a sexual relationship easily mistaking love and sex Tarun has no other mother besides Didi and he is terrified that she will leave him If he does something that does not please her she withholds her affection and he feels lost He feels shame secrecy and silence which are the hallmarks of an abused childThe book is very difficult to read at times but as a psychiatric social worker I found it rings true Samrat Upadayay understands the nuances of sexual abuse and describes them perfectly This is not a book for everyone but it is written very well and tackles a subject that most of us don't want to look at or even know about

  4. says:

    An easy yet complicated read The author's use of words makes this a uick read and easily and seamlessly weaving his native language into a novel written in English The complexity of this novel lies in the storyline at once simply a very good read and the next a jaw dropping moment that changes the lives of so many I loved that the author told the story through the eyes of the three main characters at different times the scorned wife the son of her husband's lover and his wife Simply stated one of the best books I've read this year

  5. says:

    Disclaimer I received this book for free through a Goodreads' First Read's giveawayThis one was incredibly tough to get through The topic child abuse is not one that is ever easy to read but I didn't realize just how disturbed I would be by this The author does not hold anything back when talking about this taboo topicI can't decide if I'm only giving two stars to this novel because of the topic and my dislike of it or because I actually disliked about it The plot did cause me to feel pity for certain characters but often than not I greatly disliked most of the individuals involved Either for the terrible things they inflicted on each other especially the child abuser or because the rest ignored what was going on even though it was hard to not noticeThe child abuser in this novel acted in an incredibly calculated manner and successfully ruined the lives of many individuals Many past any hope of gathering the pieces up and fixing It is hard to read anything where so many people are hurt especially when I could see as the reader exactly what was happening and why It is a special type of sick and disturbed person who could do something so terrible with no remorse whatsoeverThe ending does present some hope and I would like to tell myself that things get better but I feel like so much damage was done over so many years that it may be too late to salvage those livesI'm not sure I would recommend this to others to read because simply describing the novel to my boyfriend was too much and I know he'll never pick it up I'm afraid if I did recommend it to someone they would wish I hadn't A hard read

  6. says:

    I've been struggling to work out how to rate this one Should my distaste for the themes outweigh my admiration for the storytelling and writing? It's clear from the synopsis that this is about the sexual abuse of a child therefore I knew what I was getting into so in the end I decided no it shouldn'tWhat I really liked about this book was the authentic Nepali voice I was totally there I could picture the characters and locations so clearly The way they spoke to each other the way they hid their feelings it was spot onOf course considering the subject matter it was really difficult to read at times And in the back of my mind I was continually asking myself Why? This book is categorised as psychological fiction yet it was the psychology that was missing for me I just couldn't find anything to help me understand why the Didi I met at the start of the book became the monstrous Didi who so systematically destroyed the childhood and very nearly the adulthood of little Tarun And she wasn't the only one Why did Apsara and the Masterji end up the way they did? Why was Rukma stepping onto that same path when realistically she barely knew the Tarun who had so recently become her arranged husband? Maybe I will try again one day to see if I can reconcile thisIt's a short read well written so if you think you can stomach the scenes of abuse I would recommend it as a good example of Nepali fiction

  7. says:

    I thought I could handle this one However it just creeped me out Weird relationships and emotional abuse I didn't wait around for the physical abuse

  8. says:

    I finished reading 'The City Son' in one night feverishly turning page after page trying not to let my eyes wander towards the end in anticipation all the while with my heart in my handThe story opens with a village woman who is called 'Didi' by everyone discovering that her husband who everyone calls 'Masterji' has another family in the city where he lives for the major part of the year seldom paying any visits to his family in the village Didi has been described as hideous with a face like a football turned black by use but her sexual prowess compensating for the way she looks She nonchalantly goes to the city with her two sons and makes herself at home where Masterji lives with her younger and charming wife and their sonDidi becomes obsessed with the pre pubescent son of her husband's second wife and begins a uasi incestual sexual relationship with him the effects of which are so damaging that the boy grows up with a stunted emotional and sexual growthThe titular 'City Son' is the direct victim of Didi's revenge who powers over him with something akin to Black Magic But this crooked relationship between them becomes the epicenter of an outward spiral of hurt and grief which destroys uite a number of people that come in its way Every life that Didi touches is annihilated so awfully which makes the book a uniue kind of domestic horrorUpadhyay's writing keeps you absorbed in the story in the hope of a redemption I kept reading through gory details to reach redemption and free the characters so engraved in my mind Another thing that appealed me was that it comes from Nepal exploring the nooks and corners and all the by lanes of the city of Kathmandu I was disgusted shocked and petrified but the book had its hold on me

  9. says:

    what did I just read? Like what is this? eventhough the plot is so emotionally disturbing yet I can’t explain how simple and good this book is It had the capability to hold the readers heart This is is mindblown book Author “hands down”I like how the author has kept the innocence of Tarun alive That want to be loved How perfectly cowardice he has portrayed the father Didi is taunting and haunting character It’s so weirdly but gorgeously defined So simple but so beautiful No unnecessary exaggeration it’s great great

  10. says:

    Didi was going through her sons' old clothes when some stranger woman stopped by to tell her that her husband called Masterji through the entire book because he tutors students has been cheating on her and now has another wife and son living in the city This is news to Didi but it doesn't seem to inspire in her the kind of reaction you would expect from scorned women Earlier the Masterji had sent her a letter saying that he will not be visiting her this year as he is uite busy Masterji lives in the city while Didi stays in their native village with their two sons Didi packs up her bags and arrives at the Masterji's city apartment with their two sons in tow surprising her husband and leaving him no way to pretty his situation in anticipation of her arrivalVery soon his other wife Apsara and their maybe three or four year old son Tarun arrive home only to find that their sleeping arrangements have shifted a little The two half families do manage to somehow live together for a while though before Apsara finally gives up and moves away mainly on account of the Masterji's cowardice and lack of spine in asserting any sort of control or assurance of protection in the house Although Didi hates Apsara she has taken an intense fascination towards Tarun She lavishes a lot of attention on him feeds him anything he wants to eat and shows him a lot love than she does her other two sons Didi is also very impulsive Even a minor hint of being ignored by Tarun can make her feel venomous Tarun also begins to love Didi than anyone else He has scant respect for his own mother who is after all way too bitter and stuck with her own demons But this attachment with Didi is preventing Tarun from socializing well with friends his age or expressing any interest in girls The City Son is what I would consider an explosive book The author wastes no time getting into the story there is no meaningless digressions or descriptions of the trees and the clouds and a person's complexion or similar no pages of history before the main story starts nothing that can divert the reader's attention Instead he begins the story where it should the revelation of Masterji's adultery and proceeds to reveal the conseuences And what conseuences they wereAt the core The City Son deals with a taboo subject Something very disgraceful and disgusting; something that destroys a lot of people in the process That's about all I will say about it but if you are curious to know what the topic was comment below or email me and I'll email you I wondered if I would have read the book if I knew what the taboo subject was but I guess I probably would still except I would be reading it with a sick feeling in my gut because I know it's coming I'd love to spare you that anticipation especially if you're planning to read this Some books work because we know nothing about themI found it shocking that the taboo thing went on for years without anyone suspecting it There are people who lost love because of it people who lost confidence and then there were people who suspected something vague and did not have the guts to save matters The thing about reading such a book is that it keeps you at the edge of your seat You want things out in the open but there are people you care about caught in the webs people you don't want to see hurt than they already are The author certainly had my attention throughout it was really hard to put this book down I finished reading this 245 page book in under 4 hours and let me put that number in perspective it generally takes me about 4 evenings to finish a book that sizeOf course as I pointed out earlier the pacing of the book is real fast I wouldn't really call this entirely a plot oriented book as it's really a long progression from cause to effect As for the character development some were fleshed out much better than the others There were a few characters who I wished had their own chapters it would have been nice to know what they thought But I wouldn't say there was anything major in the character development department The book starts off from Didi's perspective then transitions to Tarun's and finally to a woman named Rukma The transitions between characters seemed like a big gray area where every relevant character seemed to talk at once I never uite enjoyed these in between paragraphs because I wasn't uite sure which narrator to focus atNote I read the ARC edition and it had plenty of Nepali phrases that were not explained I hope the final edition straightened out that issue