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Meek, middle-aged Professor of History Shiv Murthy takes in his 24-year-old ward, Meena, when she breaks her leg—even though they barely know each other. Over the next six weeks, his quiet life will be thrown into turmoil: as he struggles to care for this intellectual, self-possessed, and sexually aware young woman, a lesson he wrote for his medieval Indian history class is challenged by a group of religious extremists. The conflict escalates, and the university responds by calling Shiv up for review and asking him to apologize publicly. Unexpectedly caught up in politics, Shiv ends up taking a stand.
An intense, subtle examination of the power of the Indian religious right that also explores Indian culture and family life in a truly unique way.
“A modern fable. . .beautifully told in a spare style that is as modern as its subject.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Admirable. [Its] themes. . .are universal. Ms. Hariharan has written a fine novel that leaves much to ponder long after its conclusion.” —The Richmond-Times Dispatch
“A witty, insightful novel about a quiet, decent man caught in the crossfire of history.” —The Seattle Times
“If this premise seems to be drawn from the headlines of modern, B.J.P.-dominated India, Hariharan amplifies the themes of courage, dissent, and responsibility in her protagonist's private life. . . . The result is an engaging portrait of the mild-mannered professor.” —The New Yorker
“Appealing. . .by turns bewildered, titillated, embarrassed, and frightened out of his wits, Shiv makes a sweetly sympathetic hero for a story that is part comedy of manners, part comedy of ideas.” —The Boston Globe
“Eloquently written. . .a quick read, and fascinating to any ousider. A modern book, it reads like a classic with gorgeous prose and intense conflict.” —The Oklahoma Gazette
“Intelligent. . .[Hariharan's] deceptively simple prose belies the artistry of her phrasings and she writes with an infectious concern for her characters. She excavates the rich layers of Indian history and, at the same time, exposes the intricacies of Murthy's internal conflict and personal life.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Githa Hariharan's fiction is wonderful—full of subtleties and humour and tenderness.” —Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient