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It was time for that tiny little dream that lay hidden all these years to gradually acquire a form and shape. The thought of making it come true was an audacious one. She dared not do it. On the other hand she dared a lot — after all, she was Fateema Lokhandwala, a courageous young woman...
As pots and words banged against each other, her two-wheeler would whizz past everything, leaving it all behind. Main road, Mashallah! Current-like, the city would course through her body... At such times, Fateema lived in the present, and in the future.
Thus begins Ila Arab Mehta’s beautiful and skillfully crafted novel about the life of a young Muslim woman in present-day Gujarat. Situated in a time when society is divided along lines of religion, the novel is Fateema’s story of triumph and tragedy as she carves, never fully, a place for herself in life.
Fence is a much acclaimed novel, one of a kind in a literary tradition where the importance of multiple marginalities has been largely absent.
Fence is a powerful critique of the damage caused by Indian identity politics. It is also a classic coming-of-age story and a lively, yet tender, exploration by Mehta, a Hindu writer, of the dreams and aspirations of her Muslim sisters.