A rich and dramatic story of a poor young Indian boy who fights like a tiger to achieve fame and fortune.
In a village just outside present-day Calcutta, Koonty, a young girl, is squatting in pain beside the river, convinced that her agony is the result of a fish allergy. It’s not – she’s giving birth and as the realisation dawns on her, she makes the connection with the encounter she had all those months ago with the swimming stranger with the golden bathing shorts…Horrified, she places the baby onto a piece of floating debris, fixes her own necklace around his neck and pushes him downriver. Several miles downstream in Calcutta, the baby is discovered by Dolly, a young married woman desperate for a child. She takes him home and brings him up as her own son, calling him Karna.
And so begins a chain of events which sees Karna’s initial good fortune turn to tragedy so that, years later, he’s forced to seek out Koonty, now married and with a son of her own…
‘Sara Banerji is a very gifted storyteller – such is the passion and conviction of her narrative. She seems a natural, a writer of great warmth and directness. It must be a serious contender for this year’s Booker Prize.’ The Times
‘An ingenious and surprising novel. Banerji performs nimble creative tricks. Her adaptation of an essential human story, which shows that life everywhere follows certain primary patterns, might make this an Indiacentric Ulysses.’ TLS
‘It’s not like any other book set in India I’ve ever read – there’s no striving to be exotic – it’s rich, exciting and moving, at ease depicting the workings of a big, affluent landed household, yet equally confident in its dealings with urban street life. This is a lovely big book.’ Barbara Trapido
About the author
Sara Banerji was born in England but lived in India for many years where she ran a dairy farm. She now lives in Oxford where she teaches creative writing.