From Publishers Weekly
The pursuit of a mysterious story transforms an Indian reporter in Deb's ambitious second novel (after The Point of Return
), vividly capturing the unrest and political infighting that underlies daily life in much of India. Amrit Singh is the bored, disillusioned Sikh protagonist who grinds through his days working for a Calcutta daily until he is jolted from his ennui by an assignment to cover the murder of a woman taken hostage and apparently shot and killed by an insurgent group. A photo of the woman haunts Amrit as he travels toward the Burmese border. At first she is identified as a porn star who was killed to set a moral example, but as Amrit makes his way through a labyrinth of politicos, military figures and shady allies, he learns that the woman, named Leela, was working with a prominent local leader on an optimistic renewal enterprise called the Prosperity Project. The climax is a mixed bag--the fate of Malik, the organizer of the Prosperity Project, who was temporarily able to do business with the insurgents, makes for an intriguing twist--but the final chapters outlining Amrit's efforts to interview Leela are a serious letdown. Still, Deb's intelligent writing and cool, observational tone distinguish this look at the curious mixture of danger, hope and boredom endemic to India's remote provinces.
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The border between India and Burma is the site of rampant violence, terrorism, and corruption as rival ethnic groups fight for territory. Amrit Singh, a Sikh without a turban and a Calcutta journalist without conviction, is sent there by the Sentinel
, but he has his own assignment in mind. He is obsessed with a young woman in a photograph who is being held captive by two machine-gun-wielding insurgents; however, his search for her is stymied by army searches, insurgent actions, and a landslide. Strangers appear and tell him complicated stories, and nothing is what it seems in this atmospheric tale of fear and cynicism trumping good intentions. This is Graham Greene territory (Greene even appears in a curious flashback cameo), and Deb, whose first novel, The Point of Return
(2003), met with much acclaim, writes as dramatically and astutely of the state of ambivalence as he does about his volatile homeland, which serves here as a microcosm for the world's many besieged places where, as Amrit muses, "illusions mask an unbearable reality." Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved