Book #85

A Dinner Party in the Home Counties by Reshma Ruia

In recent years, Reshma Ruia's novels and short fiction have established her credentials as an Indian British writer, who explores the themes of belonging and identity against a backdrop of social mores and conventions. As such, I now invite readers to join me in welcoming Ruia's debut poetry volume, A Dinner Party in the Home Counties, a collection that continues her exploration with all the robust zeal of an Indian diaspora writer lightly treading multiple cultures.


When Reshma Ruia asked if she could send me her collection for a review, I felt I had to explain. I’m no poetry expert; oftentimes I feel idiotic whilst reading, as though there’s something I should be interpreting that my small brain just simply cannot grasp. I told her I couldn’t read poetry and understand technique; I could only understand how it made me feel. She sent the collection anyway, and it was perfect for me.

The poems felt unbelievably personal and distinctive. Ruia’s ability to tell an entire story with a tiny number of words is astounding. Where in other poetry collections I’ve stumbled along in a fog of confusion, here I was devouring each line with countless forking emotions.

She works a lot with the idea of belonging and what this means, what it means to strive for belonging, to belong to somewhere no longer accessible. We look at women and what’s expected of them, at the fear of aging, at race and sexuality. Mostly, we’re exploring the lives of people who society sees as outsiders, and it’s just so utterly gorgeous.

These poems are rippling with a passion which is a telling sign of Ruia’s complete devotion to each and every one. Her characters and her message all seem to have been sculpted by fire, and there are no signs of her fire being quenched in any single moment of any single poem. The collection has rekindled my inclination towards verse when I didn’t think it possible. Thank you so much for sending me this.