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Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s new novel skewers modern millennial Indian relationships in the time of the pandemic

New Delhi, 18 November 2021: Penguin Random House India announces the acquisition of contemporary writer Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s new work of fiction, Soft Animal, a novel about a modern Indian marriage against the backdrop of the first lockdown in 2020 from Kanishka Gupta of the Writer’s Side. This is Meenakshi’s eighth book, and she debuted as a writer with the bestseller You Are Here, published by Penguin in 2008.  Her new book will be published in 2023.

Soft Animal is an irreverent, insightful novel about a young couple enduring an unhappy marriage just as India embarks on its surreal COVID lockdown. Thirty-six-year-old Mallika Rao is mostly sheltered from the problems of the millions fighting for their existence around her. Instead, her Delhi flat and her husband threaten to become a prison and she searches for confidence that has eluded her.  Mallika’s collisions with her neighborhood – including a voyeuristic pensioner she befriends – and explorations of her inner self provide a darkly playful and incisive commentary on modern relationships and the Indian social mores that dog them. Unfolding in the urgent present tense with conspiratorial flashbacks and footnotes, Soft Animal invites readers into an uncomfortably intimate space.

Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan says of this new book, ‘I’ve always been deeply interested in the interior lives of others and the intricacies of human relationships. We all wonder sometimes what it would be like to be stuck on a desert island with someone, maybe your life partner, and what that 24/7 forced intimacy would do for and to a relationship. COVID and the isolation it entailed gave me a way to imagine and write about what would happen within a marriage to someone who, like me, lives in an apartment in one of Delhi’s affluent colonies, surrounded by all sides by the self-complacencies and self-absorption of our privileged lives.’

Manasi Subramaniam, Executive Editor and Head of Literary Rights, Penguin Press, Penguin Random House India says, ‘Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan reinvents herself with every book, and that has always been a joy for me to observe, both as reader and editor. At the same time, she pulls no punches when it comes to that strongest weapon in her arsenal: her ability to scrutinize the self-delusion of her characters with acuity and without cruelty. Her new book Soft Animal is no exception.’