New Yorker Best Book of 2022
"Stunning... poetic, urgent. [Taneja] turns a critical lens toward the way language shapes violence, suggesting that 'power tells a story to sustain itself, it has no empathy for those it harms.'"—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Usman Khan was convicted of terrorism-related offenses at age 20, and sent to high-security prison. He was released eight years later, and allowed to travel to London for one day, to attend an event marking the fifth anniversary of a prison education program he participated in. On November 29, 2019, he sat with others at Fishmongers’ Hall, some of whom he knew. Then he went to the restroom to retrieve the things he had hidden there: a fake bomb vest and two knives, which he taped to his wrists. That day, he killed two people: Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt.
Preti Taneja taught fiction writing in prison for three years. Merritt oversaw her program; Khan was one of her students. “It is the immediate aftermath,” Taneja writes. “’I am living at the centre of a wound still fresh.’ The I is not only mine. It belongs to many.”
In this searching lament by the award-winning author of We That Are Young, Taneja interrogates the language of terror, trauma and grief; the fictions we believe and the voices we exclude. Contending with the pain of unspeakable loss set against public tragedy, she draws on history, memory, and powerful poetic predecessors to reckon with the systemic nature of atrocity. Blurring genre and form, Aftermath is a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and to recapture a politics of hope through a determined dream of abolition.
Aftermath is part of the Undelivered Lectures series from Transit Books.
"Stunning... [Taneja] turns a critical lens toward the way language shapes violence, suggesting that 'power tells a story to sustain itself, it has no empathy for those it harms.' This poetic, urgent, and self-reflective work will delight fans of Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Aftermath is a book of extraordinary heart and intellectual force that probes the power of trauma and interrogates the ideologically inflected meanings of terrorism. Its achievement lies in its generosity and intimacy.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Evolving a not-yet-existent form, Taneja weaves a mesmerising blend of recollection, theory, aphorism, poetry and, yes, fact."—Irish Times
"This searing abolitionist work sees, and refuses, other prisons too—of narrative-for-hire, racial shame, the trauma industrial complex, cause and effect. It tries to convince no one of nothing, to confess nothing to no one. Instead it breaks sentences and pages open, makes language rush into you (you are an estuary, the dam is gone). Its shape is unmappable. It lives on as a drumming in your head."—Maria Tumarkin, author of Axiomatic
"A tremendous feat of scholarship, of historical interlacing, of contemporary criticism, of literary examination, of ethical clarity and personal interrogation and, most indelibly, of grieving."—Gina Apostol, author of Insurrecto
Praise for We That Are Young
“Revelatory. Urgent and irresistible… One of the most exquisite and original novels of the year.”—The Sunday Times
“We That Are Young is like nothing else. Its daring is outrageous.”—Literary Review
“Urgent and exhilarating… We That Are Young cuts rage with poetry—and produces a memorable national epic.”—The TLS
“Brilliant… finely crafted… Taneja has given us that rarest of beasts: a page-turner that is also unabashedly political.”—The Guardian
“A remarkable picture of contemporary India… Taneja’s sensuous writing brings women’s predicaments to life—[and issues] a chilling warning.”—The Irish Times
“Misogyny, religious and caste prejudice, plus the madness of money all make for a magnificent, dark and satirical drama.”—Marie Claire