Set in 2017 near Atlanta, the novel centers on Mother, an Indian-American woman in her 40s with three daughters and a husband who travels internationally more than he’s at home. One morning, after taking her children to school, Mother is gunned down in her driveway in an unexplained robbery; the narrative is told in discursive segments that jump around in time to present flashes of Mother’s life, all while she lies dying.
The Atlas of Reds and Blues is a quick read, in part, because of these short sections, some only two sentences long. But it’s a page-turner, too, because of the urgency of each small story, each revelatory memory ... In her acknowledgments, Laskar thanks her publisher for 'embracing this experiment.' If The Atlas of Reds and Blues and the lyric, thematic and structural care the author has lent it are an experiment, then it is certainly a successful one.
This debut novel is an experiment with time and space and memory, as Laskar weaves Mother’s past with the history of the Barbie doll ... The author’s fluid, succinct language in each short chapter becomes the border of an atlas, straining to connect to form a person. A place. A thing. Laskar shows how women, and particularly women of color, not only have to manage motherhood, marriage, and ambition, but also must fight for respect on top of it all.
...a poignant meditation on racism and police brutality experienced by people of color ... Laskar also makes the unusual choice to not name her characters. While this runs the risk of keeping the reader at arm’s length, it also elevates the narrative from being merely one person’s story into a universal fable where these characters are everyone and anyone. Whether you appreciate this choice or not will depend on the sort of reader you are ... Laskar has a fine eye for capturing the loneliness and heart break of her characters, even as they desperately try to assimilate ... Laskar’s fine and moving novel is a step toward her own release, and with it she simultaneously offers readers a way out, too.