Remember Bonsai Kittens
— the hoax about growing kittens in a jar? It seems that they've finally made their way from the internet into print, serving as the title for Lakshmi Narayan's new novel.
I would have expected that a novel titled "Bonsai Kitten" would be a work of gross-out fiction aimed at young men. But not so! Narayan was inspired by the idea of a Bonsai Kitten to write a work of serious literary fiction about the struggles of young brides in Indian society. Here's the book description on Amazon
"I'm nothing but a bonsai kitten!" thought Divya despairingly. Bonsai kitten — a pervert's contention that just as plants can be stunted, so can living beings. And wasn't that the guiding principle behind procuring a suitable girl? Catch her young when she is malleable like playdough, so she can be twisted and mangled to your liking. This way, she knows her place and stays there. At the lowest stratum. But little does Divya suspect that the Cosmic Jester, that celestial imp who specializes in tripping up humans, has other plans for her. Plans that include a roller-coaster ride from Delhi to Mumbai to Singapore, with tears and laughter, betrayal and friendship, loss and rebirth, as her companions. And through it all, she would have to fence with that master puppeteer to reclaim her destiny. Lakshmi Narayan makes a spunky literary debut with a novel that will find... several echoes and resonances, not just with women but also from men who want to understand us a little better.
has an article about the book, revealing that it took Lakshmi 17 years to complete the book, and discussing why she chose Bonsai Kittens as a metaphor:
Romance she wrote
The bonsai metaphor: "Once, my dog's vet sent me an email about a crazy thing she found on the internet called 'bonsai kitten'. Apparently, one could put a newborn kitten into a jar and inject it with some chemicals through a probe to soften its bones. Eventually, the cat takes the shape of the bottle. Later we found it was a hoax. But that title bonsai kitten stuck with me," says the author. Lakshmi used it as a metaphor to talk about the plight of young Indian brides. "This is what is required of an Indian bride. Catch the woman young, mould her to your liking, train her to be obedient and keep her at the bottom of the rung," says Lakshmi.