BUZZED ABOUT, PRIZE-WINNING NOVEL: Published in India by HarperCollins India in 2018, this novel won the prestigious Tata Lit Live First Book Award, and was longlisted for the JCB Literary Prize.
INCREDIBLE BACKSTORY: This novel is infused with seven years of research. To fully inhabit her characters, Swarup lived and worked in every region the novel passes through. She worked as a teacher, a journalist, and a dance bar waitress. She studied earth sciences and biology. She interviewed prisoners, opium cultivators, and soldiers. She researched local folktales, folklore, and oral storytelling. Her main inspiration for this novel is the work of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro).
POLITICALLY ENGAGED AUTHOR: Shubhangi Swarup is an outspoken advocate for human rights and environmental justice. She dedicated her acceptance speech for the Tata Lit Live First Book Award to the #MeToo movement in India, and she speaks passionately about our responsibility to the earth in the age of climate change.
“A reminder that the earth itself is alive, and that even in our isolation we are members of a changing world…In the timescale of this novel, bedrock moves, lighthouses unmoor, and you can feel the ground wander.”—Guernica
“Experimental, sweeping, epic.”—Goop, a Goop Book Club Pick
“Astonishing and completely original, Shubhangi Swarup’s magical novel will change the way you see people—and landscapes, forests, the oceans, snow deserts.”—Nilanjana S. Roy
“Incandescent! What a treasure. Thank you for this gem. It should be galloping across the galaxies. Or maybe not so that those of us who have run into it can keep the experience as a cultish and delectable secret!”—Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, author of The Dragonfly Sea and Dust
“This daring novel, gloriously lyrical but excitingly precise, and steeped in the flora, fauna, history, and politics of that enthralling region between the Andaman Islands and the Tibetan plateau, gives us the sweep of human drama among astonishingly rich natural and geographical complexity. Breathtaking.”—Ruth Padel, author of Where the Serpent Lives and Tigers in Red Weather
“Lyrical, original, and heartbreaking.”—JCB Literary Prize Jury
“Swarup debuts with an inventive novel in stories that features a multigenerational cast in search of love and worldly purpose…. By integrating magical elements—talking glaciers and yetis appear—Swarup eschews conventional love stories to focus instead on many forms of desire, while zigzagging across time and place. This offers beautiful depictions of humanity through a successfully experimental form.”—Publishers Weekly
“A promising debut novel sweeps through a series of stories that join human lives to the natural world…. Made up of four linked novellas. Their titles—Islands, Faultline, Valley, and Snow Desert—suggest the book’s emphasis on how people connect (or don’t) to their planet…. The book vividly recounts their often humorous, sometimes surreal, and ultimately touching relationship.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The lush monsoon-soaked Andaman Islands. The snow deserts of Ladakh. The valley of Kathmandu. The jagged edge of Burma. Swarup’s lyrical debut exalts in the majesty of the South Asian subcontinent by framing every one of her characters against these spectacular landscapes…. Generous doses of magical realism mixed in with regional folklore add to the atmospheric charm…These sumptuous and haunting narratives confirm a character’s worst suspicion that ‘reality is the worst story ever written.’ Fiction is infinitely better, especially when it offers true escape like this one.”—Booklist (starred review)
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