Milk Teeth is a novel for people who are nostalgic. People who often wistfully remember their childhood, the places they lived, and the people they met. Set in Matunga, Bombay, Milk Teeth revolves around the lives of three protagonists-Ira, Kaiz, and Karthik. The novel is all about their deeply personal experiences and their responses to the world outside them. In a sense, all three characters in this novel are trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them while they transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. The novel has a fourth protagonist who connects all the other three—Bombay. Many novels have been written about Bombay, but what sets Milk Teeth apart is how the city deeply intertwined with the lives of the protagonists.
The novel is about a constant give and take between the Bombay and its protagonists – the city that gives and takes. Interestingly, the novel is set in late 90s, much before the era of mobile phones, the internet, and social media. That itself evokes a sense of nostalgia. The 1992 Bombay riots form a backdrop for the novel, but it’s not directly mentioned. The novel skillfully unravels the aftereffects of the riots in the city’s people and their psyche. On the surface, the novel might come across as a love story. It surely is. But, more than the relationship between the protagonists, the novel talks about the relationship that each protagonist has with themselves and with the city. It’s also about their struggle to understand and make sense of the people they have grown into. Often, as adults, we look at ourselves and wonder, ‘Who is this new person? What has happened to that child I once were? Am I faking it all?’ I think these questions add to the universality of Milk Teeth. That’s why people like me who have never set foot in Bombay or has no commonality with the protagonists can relate to this novel. Pick up this novel if you are interested in a deep, philosophical read laced with passionate romance.
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