"In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman."
So begins the story of Myshkin and his mother Gayatri, its rebellious, alluring artist-heroine who is driven to abandon home and marriage and follow her primal instinct for freedom.
Freedom of another kind is in the air across all of India, and in Germany the Nazis have come to power. At this point of crisis, a German artist from Gayatri's past seeks her out. His arrival ignites passions she has long been forced to suppress.
What follows is Gayatri's life as pieced together by her son, a journey that takes him through India and Dutch-held Bali. Excavating the roots of the world in which he was abandoned, he comes to understand the connections between volcanic strife at home and a war-torn universe overtaken by patriotism.
The scale of Anuradha Roy's novel is matched by its power as a parable for our times. Its depiction of the contrasting ideas of Gandhi and Tagore, of the limits of nationalism when confronted by cosmopolitanism, makes it a spell-binding saga centred on people trying to make sense of their lives.
Every once in a great while, a novel comes along to remind you why you rummage through shelves in the first place. Why you peck like a magpie past the bright glitter of publishers' promises. Why you read...This, you think, is the feeling you had as you read Great Expectations or Sophie's Choice or The Kite Runner. This is why you read fiction at all. — Marie Arana, Washington Post, on An Atlas of Impossible Longing
Roy's writing is a joy. — Financial Times.
One of India's greatest living authors. — O, The Oprah Magazine.