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Book Review: Perseverance Flooded the Streets by Abbey Seitz

Perseverance Flooded the Streets is a captivating novella by Abbey Seitz about some dark issues that bottleneck the personal and professional growth of poor and socially suppressed Indian women. Though this is the first book of Abbey Seitz, I could feel her mastery of wordsmithing and storytelling. She is a terrific author on the subject pertaining to structural flaws perturbing the much needed growth of the women across the world.

The novella basically has two backdrops, Wisconsin, USA, and India. Lovelyn, a twenty-five-year-old graduate student is keen to have some research report on mobility and safety of women in the approaching summer. She applies to various places and somehow gets a response from India. Before moving to India for her work with NGOs, one chilly night she was attacked while out for walk to soothe her seething mind and it was her birthday. Post that attack, she is never the same person. Her ambition to write and research on safety and mobility of women probably is rather fueled up. Anyway, the main chunk of the story takes place in India, but her sad past always haunts her. Was there anything wrong? What will happen if she confronts her attacker?

Quite obvious Lovelyn is back seated after that attack and I totally agree with her. I could have been the same if it had happened to me. In India she observes a different land; it’s chaotic, dirty, crowded, unorganized, glimmering, and unsafe. Certainly she wasn’t feeling safe but she sighs in appreciation when she observes the struggle of Indian women at every step. To her surprise, they are unstoppable. As the story moves on, she keeps meeting interesting people working for the betterment of women in various spheres like safety, education, mobility, educating about menstruation cycle and selling sanitary pads and so on. She understands that the situation of women among poor and downtrodden and religion-bound is a matter of concern and needs immediate measures. Would she be able to ignite spark of revolution for the people working in the same field? One needs to get into the book to understand how she was helping and what was obstructing her.

The dazzling highlight in the book is that the author provided many instances where I got to know the real pain of women, that one particular story from landfill of Ghazipur of Delhi fills me with frown; and that girl with a mask struggling to arrange a few sanitary pads for her hygiene. Lovelyn’s interaction with slum women and neighborhood and during the travel makes her more aware of the problems she is looking to cover in her writing. But these are the same encounters that keep the story interesting and lively. The overall story felt like moving at good pace.

It’s a story out of her experience more than a research she intended to do. The voice in the novella is unquenchable – it needs to be heard worldwide. Abbey invites us into the lives of several different characters from their perspectives and takes us to a place from where we can see what churns beneath the urban landscape of the Indian cities.

Like many authors in the past, say Shobha De, Shashi Deshpande, or Anita Desai – Abbey’s novella is a beautiful diversion from core feminism and offers profound insights into the other side of womanhood.

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