Shimmering ... Swamy’s storytelling builds almost sneakily, the narration circling and turning, all while her prose mesmerizes. Like a dancer entrancing the audience with her expressive hands while her feet propel her forward.
[A] mesmerizingly poetic world ... The Archer's beauty resides in Swamy's sequential narrative form, which reads like music — at times almost exactly like reading a musical score — but with something more; her words carry the visceral power of a dancer's intersection with air. It's a very tough technique to pull off. But Swamy's ability to carve meaning from a lyrical use of narrative brings the reader along with Vidya on her sublime, boundary-pushing exploration ... [Swamy's] new tale of Vidya's emergence unto herself is a beautiful inheritor of that timeless virtuosity.
Shruti Swamy’s The Archer is a searing portrait of the woman artist—how these identities, too, are in opposition—and, in this work, she brings to life new ideas of fulfillment ... The novel itself is a character study, a real-time tale of self-actualization, and revels in the specific and minute. Even India she brings down to its smallest circles—a single village, an engineering college, a rich man’s house. In this specificity, the writing shines, aiming not to make broad, sweeping statements but to fill in the colors of our artist’s life. Vidya forms few close bonds throughout the book, but each one is exquisite ... As a whole, the novel infuriates, exhilarates, and challenges our ideas of art and artistry. It immerses us in a microcosm of a setting and in an introspective sole protagonist. It does justice to an age-old myth and recontextualizes its lessons ... Swamy has defined herself as a bold new voice in not only South Asian diaspora literature, but modern literature as a whole.
The Archer often reads more like a lucid dream than a novel, oceans of wild feeling roiling just below the surface ... Swamy writes about the imperatives of an artist's life with bright, furious poetry: the singular will of a body that burns to be in motion, and a mind set free.
The Archer blends the corporeal and the spiritual in a story about what it means to be a woman and an artist. Swamy’s writing is transportive, precise and almost hypnotic, not unlike the controlled and expressive dance form that Vidya loves. The author’s perceptive and observant eye misses nothing.
Swamy’s prose is incantatory and often lovely, swirling in dancelike rhythms that sweep the story along. She builds a complex character in Vidya, whose urge toward autonomy brings results that range from ecstatic to tragic. A young woman seeks freedom through art in a mesmerizing coming-of-age story.
[An] affecting debut novel ... Swamy writes with keen perception ... Swamy confidently evokes the time and place with spare, precise prose. This writer continues to demonstrate an impressive command of her craft.