Book review: The Days Toppled Over, Vidya Madabushi

An engaging and thought-provoking novel with a strong sense of place, memorable characters and poignant examination of connection.

Vidya Madabushi’s novel The Days Toppled Over takes readers on a journey delving into the themes of family, mental health and the struggles faced by students in Australia. With its setting alternating between Bangalore, India and Sydney, this book beautifully captures the essence of these two worlds, while weaving a captivating narrative that leaves a lasting impression.

The story revolves around Malli and Surya, two characters who share a bond despite living miles apart. Malli finds solace in her phone calls with Surya until one day when he unexpectedly stops answering. Filled with distress and longing for answers, Malli discovers support from an online forum where a stranger named Nayan offers to help. Determined to uncover the truth, Malli embarks on a journey to Australia alongside the outspoken Nayan.

In Sydney, Surya faces the challenges of being an international student head on. Working in a restaurant while enduring challenging living conditions, he strives to secure a work visa that would allow him to stay in the country. However, an unfortunate encounter with a customer sets off a chain of events that will test Surya’s resilience and push him towards an act of love.

Madabushi skilfully develops her characters, imbuing them with authenticity and depth. The quiet strength and unwavering determination of Malli shine through, while Surya’s struggles and sacrifices evoke a sense of empathy and admiration. The author vividly portrays the contrasting landscapes, capturing the essence of both Bangalore and Sydney. Readers are fully immersed in the sights, sounds and cultural nuances of each place.

The Days Toppled Over also addresses issues with sensitivity. Mental health is portrayed delicately through Malli’s silence and its impact on her life. The book thoughtfully explores the challenges faced by students, shedding light on their experiences – from the uncertainty surrounding employment to the discrimination they often encounter.

Madabushi’s prose is sprinkled with humour, providing moments of light-heartedness amid profound themes. The dialogue between characters feels genuine, capturing their voices and relationships authentically. The narrative unfolds at a pace that keeps readers engrossed until the end.

With its sense of place, memorable characters and poignant examination of connection, The Days Toppled Over proves to be an engaging and thought-provoking novel. Madabushi’s Australian debut showcases her storytelling talent while offering a reminder of how transformative friendship can be, and emphasising the importance of reaching out to others.

This book will make readers ponder the intricacies of life, the chase after dreams and the deep influence we can have on one another’s lives.

Read: Book review: Roseghetto, Kirsty Jagger

Overall, The Days Toppled Over is a crafted and emotionally powerful novel that deserves a spot on any book enthusiast’s collection. Vidya Madabushi’s adept storytelling and thoughtful examination of topics make this a must-read for anyone in search of an engaging literary journey.

The Days Toppled Over by Vidya Madabushi
Publisher: Penguin Australia
ISBN: 9781761049545
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352pp
Publication date: 20 June 2023
RRP: $32.99

This review is published under the Amplify Collective, an initiative supported by The Walkley Foundation and made possible through funding from the Meta Australian News Fund.

Manuela Barry, an emerging poet, artist, and storyteller from South Australia, draws inspiration from her Sudanese heritage to explore themes of identity and culture. Her performances provoke introspection, sparking transformative conversations and inspiring change. Recognizing the lack of cultural diversity in the arts, Manuela uses her writing and performances to amplify her unique perspective, solidifying her status as a rising star in spoken word and poetry.