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In a Time of Monsters

by Koushik Banerjea

This excerpt from Banerjea’s debut novel begins with a gang arrest in a neighborhood in south London, but the focus of the chapter is the immigrant woman who reminisces about her happy childhood in pre-partition Bengal. She implores her professor father, her Baba, to allow her older brother, her dada, to take her to the cinema. The wish is granted, and she experiences for the first time the Mukul cinema, “its well-decorated marquee at the entrance and walls pasted with big posters announcing forthcoming features.” Along with other girls chaperoned by older brothers, she and her dada sit in the very front row and watch the giant gorilla carry Ann in his huge hand and disappear into the jungle, as the Mukul cinema is “filled with the shrieks and cries of children.”

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