Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife” as Want to Read:
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife

by
4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,293 ratings  ·  378 reviews
Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back - a resis ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Atlantic Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



When I Hit You’s unnamed narrator gives a staggering account of psychological manipulation and marital abuse. The book’s patchwork structure is frenetic yet elegiac. The subject matter is distressing but approachable. Above all, Kandasamy's sharp voice and her arresting linguistic style are bread and wine for the soul. This ranks among the fiercest competitors on this year’s longlist; it will come as no sur
...more
Khush
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it








It is a book that has roused many responses in me, not always good. In the beginning, just after reading a few pages, I made up my mind about the writer. She proved me right, to an extent, in the first half of the book. It is terrible when one's negative thoughts about the writer come true. This book for me is more like an essay than a novel. In the beginning, it reads like as if the author has read too much theory. There is nothing wrong with reading theories, but one hardly writes a good novel
...more
Jennifer
The words I would use to describe this book – powerful, unflinching, raw – all sound cliché, but they’re all true. Video review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2KI7...
Meike
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, 2018-read
"That is the aim of the rapes, all this rough sex. Not just a disciplining, but a disabling. He believes that after him, I will have nothing in me to love, to make love, to give pleasure. This is a man breaking his own wife. This is a man burning down his own house."

This is not for the faint of heart, the book is in fact full of paragraphs like the one cited above. Kandasamy tells the story of a highly educated Indian woman from a well-to-do family who marries a man who keeps the outward appeara
...more
Elyse Walters
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this book from the UK after reading extraordinary reviews- shattering- about a young woman who marries a dashing University Professor who behind closed doors is a bullying, abusive, monster. I was warned about the physical and sexual violence- but readers expressed the importance of reading this courageous, brave poetic book of the year: shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize, Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas prize - Women’s Prize Fiction for 2018.
I wanted to support the book - even offer a s
...more
Hugh
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, modern-lit
As a man, I don't feel capable of writing a conventional review of this compelling, intensely personal, visceral, brutal, raw and above all human story of how a talented young poet and writer found herself trapped in an abusive marriage, and how she eventually escaped from it. All I can do is to spread the word and urge others to read it.

We are discussing this book in the 21st Century Literature group this month here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group...
Srividya
Many years ago, when I was studying law, I worked with a non profit organization that dealt with women’s issues along with many others. I was in my final year of law when I met her. She was a woman from a well to do family, husband had a thriving business and all was good and dandy when seen from outside but the inside was a different story altogether. She came to me one evening as I was alone in the office. My senior had gone out and I was alone. She wanted to talk to someone. I informed her th ...more
Gumble's Yard
I am the woman who has tried to shield herself from the pain of the first person singular …. I am the woman who stands in place of the woman who loathes to enter this story in any of its narrations … because that woman has struggled so hard and long to wriggle out of it – and now when asked to speak, she would much rather send a substitute. Sharing stories might be catharsis, but to her it is the second, more sophisticated punishment. I am the woman deputed on her behalf.


Now shortlisted for th
...more
Trudie
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a tough read of that there is no doubt.

The title is fierce and the writing while beautifully poetic and darkly humorous is also uncompromising and raw. It leaves you with a portrait of the lives of women in India which is frankly horrific. Of course at some level this should not be news, as we have all seen (or maybe looked away from) those headlines about burning and gang rape and other unpleasantness that is often convenient to consign to problems that don't belong to us.

Reading this
...more
Alice Lippart
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Brutal.
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Brilliant! Read it already.

I had a lot of doubts in my mind when I picked the book. Is it stereotypical? Is it bashing all marriages in India in general? Is it a long personal rant? Yes, I had read Meena's poems before this but I had these looming questions about the novel.

And....It is none of the above. This novel is so raw and powerful; it will make you cringe. It will make you feel terrified. I loved the honesty in the voice. I loved it when Meena Kandasamy wrote that she wrote about strong w
...more
Viv JM
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: https://thewire.in/books/list-people-read-i-hit
When I Hit You tells the tale of a young wife's treatment at the hands of an abusive husband. First, he cuts her off and seeks to control her (making her delete her Facebook account, hand over her phone, tell him her email password) and he moves on to physically beating and raping her. This is certainly, and rightly, an upsetting and harrowing book, but in no way gratuitous. The writer takes control of her story and her life and eventually leaves the husband, after four months of marriage.

Kandas
...more
Jo (That book-hoarding geek)
"I am the woman who asked for tenderness and got raped in return. I am the woman who has done her sentence."

This is one hell of a book. It has had such a profound effect on me, I'm not even sure I'm happy that I finished it so quick. "When I hit you" is a very personal account of a young woman in India, and the abusive marriage she endured. The young woman is a writer, and she fell in love and married a professor. Soon after the marriage things begin to change. He starts mentally abusing her, by
...more
chantel nouseforaname
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Meena Kandasamy. This book is levels of difficult. The abusive marriage the narrator endured, not many find their way out of those situations and it's a fucking travesty that this abuse continues. It's a international disgrace that so many bodies on so many levels are complacent with the suffering, abuse and subjugation of women and girls globally. It's a fucking travesty that we describe violence against women the way that we do. That we don't even label it out in the open as what it is, violen ...more
Ylenia
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes the shame is not the beatings, not the rape.
The shaming is in being asked to stand to judgment
.
Rachel
When I Hit You is a brutal and uncompromising look at one woman's abusive marriage in India. I'm at a complete loss for words with this book - I just want to shove it into everyone's hands who has ever asked 'if the relationship is abusive, why doesn't she just leave?' Kandasamy answers that question with unapologetic candor, in this semi-autobiographical novel that fuses lyricism with forthrightness in a way that's utterly striking.

The narrator in When I Hit You is an aspiring writer and a self
...more
Ana
“My written body opens up only to the extent I decide to demarcate. It does not require the permission of my parents, it does not require the approval of society. My words might reveal a generous cleavage, a breaking waist, but they do not let anyone put their hands on me. Wrapping my body into words, I proof it against the prying eye, against inspection. I have sheathed it against the hands of others. My woman’s body, when it is written down, is rape resistant.”

This book… This! Book!

I had to re
...more
Preethi
Must read. For everyone.
If you are a woman, read this book and tell yourself how bad some people in this world could be. If you are a man, read it to know the atrocities women have to put up with. If you are a parent, read this to know that you have to support your girl and teach your boy to be a sensitive human being. And if you are a citizen of the world, read it to know how harsh the world is and how quick it is to judge, in many cases.

The soft-gore, emotional abuse , physical torture and th
...more
Neil
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is a hard book for me to review. There are two main reasons for this. The first is the difficult subject matter which I will come back to shortly. The second is the simple fact that several of my Goodreads friends have already read the book and written excellent reviews and I feel like anything I write will look like plagiarism. So, without further ado, I refer you to reviews by

Meike
Gumble’s Yard
Hugh
Jonathan
Paul

There is little I can add to these. This book takes an important topic and gives
...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
This was an excoriating read, and absolutely not what I expected in terms of style. Kandasamy’s prose is direct, uncompromising and confrontational, in a way that reminds me of Mohsin Hamid but which is also unlike him because it isn’t in anyway contrived. The canny structure and rhythm of the narrative grips you and pins you in place, so that you can’t look away, even when what you’re reading is devastating and horrific. (See: the fact that I read this in two sittings.) And there are a lot of h ...more
Eric Anderson
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that felt so thrillingly alive and teeming with ideas that I frequently copied down quotes while I was reading it. Meena Kandasamy writes about a young woman reflecting on the atrociously abusive marriage that she lived through. Her narrative is very analytical as it artfully poses statements with challenging concepts and ideas about why abuse occurs, why the abused feel pressured to remain in that relationship and the challenges of extracting oneself from that relationship, but a ...more
Sarah
4.5 rounded up

Wow. Given the title I expected this book to be intense and hard-hitting but I still don't think I was completely prepared for how raw and graphic this was.

Our unnamed narrator (a young Indian woman writer in her late 20s) has a secret affair with and ends up marrying an older political activist and moves in with him, isolating her from her family. Almost immediately after marriage the domestic abuse begins. Her husband is a paranoid, sick and manipulative person, harming himself a
...more
Claire McAlpine
An incredible work of creativity in working through the post-trauma of domestic violence.

I am reminded of the quote I shared on my blog, in my review of Aminatta Forna's Happiness, a quote that came from Salman Rushdie in fact.
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”


Meena Kandasamy has taken charge of her story
...more
Katie.dorny
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This book is brutally honest and wonderfully poetic. Just like the writer it continuously encompasses all themes whilst simultaneously contradicting itself along the way as well.
Our narrator here details her life from being a younger woman trying to establish herself as a writer to a survivor of rape and domestic abuse.
Throughout the chapters her storytelling is so vivid and honest, I couldn’t put this book down. It details such a strong woman.
The way the writers poetry and chosen quotes dotted
...more
Jonathan Pool
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Is this happening to you? The disbelief
Did you let this happen to you? The shock
Why did you put up with all of this? The shame
(219)
Prior to the announcement of the Women’s Prize for Fiction I was not aware of Mena Kandasamy’s writing, or her political activism. It’s interesting that she, and fellow Indian political activist, Arundhati Roy are both listed for 2018 Women’s Prize. Arundhati Roy also gets a name reference in “When I Hit You”

The book’s title leaves no room for doubt as to the subjec
...more
Rebecca
I read about the first 35 pages and skimmed the rest. I loved the witty opening, as the narrator’s mother exaggerates the rundown condition in which her daughter returned to her when she left her abusive marriage. The daughter thinks, “I need to stop this, before my story becomes a footnote to a story about lice infestation. I must take some responsibility over my own life. I must write my story.”

And so the narrator tells of how she tried to bend herself to her Communist activist husband’s wishe
...more
Jessica
An incredibly brutal, yet deeply moving novel. Not an easy read, but unequivocally important.
Inderjit Sanghera
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
he cage occupied by then narrator in ‘When I Hit You’ isn’t solely limited to her marriage; the bruises worn by the narrator aren’t limited to her body; the dehumanisation the narrator feels due to her gender isn’t limited to just men; ‘When I Hit You’ acts as a microcosm for how deeply embedded patriarchy is in society, in which the violence enacted by men is seen as something to be explained and excuse and the violence suffered by women as something to be ridiculed, where concepts of shame ove ...more
Marc
This book bowled me over with the sheer force of its honesty and emotion. It's a rather raw look at an abusive marriage that mixes in a fairly heady amount of history, political philosophy, and humor. The reader is invited to almost inhabit the role of victim, to get a sense of how easily one can justify what might otherwise seem insane or ludicrous. How one might give up so many little pieces of themself to no longer recognize the person they've become. And just how commonplace it is for societ ...more
Barbara
This account of domestic abuse goes beyond powerful. I found it hard to put down, despite the painful descriptions of the violence rained down on the author by her husband. The events took place in India, where Kandasamy married a Marxist university professor she thought was quiet and respectful. He moved her away from her Tamil family to a town where she could not speak the language. He quickly began to isolate her and beat her.

The book contains an "addendum" by Deepa D. - "A List of People You
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
“I am the woman who is willing to display her scars and put them within exhibition frames. I am the madwoman of moon days. I am the breast-beating woman who howls. I am the woman who wills the skies to weep in my place.” 6 likes
“Let me tell you something that goes against popular wisdom. Love is not blind; it just looks in the wrong places.” 5 likes
More quotes…