The story is told from multiple perspectives, but it is grandma who is the central figure. She goes missing for several days and when she is found she goes to stay with Beti. The mother-daughter relationship becomes strangely inverted and grandma also develops a close relationship with the hijra (transsexual) Rosie. And then she visits Pakistan, taking Beti with her, and there are flashbacks to her memories of Partition and her life as a child.
"A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you've got women and a border, a story can write itself."
There are political ruminations in this, on borders and identity. There are metafictional elements, with observations on its relationship to the classic novels of Partition, hints at a concealed narrator, and so forth. There are elements of magical realism, with some of the story told from the perspective of birds. And there is a general playfulness with language (and a translator's afterword discusses some of the problems this posed). But none of this dominates or obscures the basic story, which moves along at a brisk pace in chapters of just a few pages. Tomb of Sand also remains light-hearted and playful, often verging on the comic, despite its serious themes and dark elements.
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