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The City Son [Kindle Edition]

Samrat Upadhyay
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition $10.49  
Hardcover $18.63  
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Book Description

Set in Samrat Upadhyay’s signature and timeless Nepal, The City Son offers a vivid portrait of a scorned woman’s lifelong obsession with revenge and the devastating ramifications for an impressionable young man.

Acclaimed and award-winning author Samrat Upadhyay—the first Nepaliborn novelist writing in English to be published in the West—has crafted a spare, understated work examining a taboo subject: a wife’s obsession with her husband’s illegitimate son. When Didi discovers that her husband, the Masterji, has been hiding his beautiful lover and their young son, Tarun, in a nearby city, she takes the Masterji back into her grasp and expels his second family. Tarun’s mother, heartsick and devastated, slowly begins to lose her mind, and Tarun turns to Didi for the mothering he longs for. But as Tarun gets older, Didi’s domination of the boy turns from the emotional to the physical, and the damages she inflicts spiral outward, threatening to destroy Tarun’s one chance at true happiness. Potent, disturbing, and gorgeously stark in its execution, The City Son is a novel not soon forgotten.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As if a woman scorned isn’t enough of a story, Upadhyay (The Royal Ghosts, 2006) also examines the vengeance of a truly evil woman scorned. Didi, a rural Nepal housewife and mother of two boys, tends the home front while her husband, the Masterji, lives and teaches in a nearby city. The day she learns that the Masterji has another, and more beautiful, wife, Apsara, and son, Tarun, Didi packs up her kids and moves into her cheating spouse’s city home. It’s a Herculean passive-aggressive parry as she willfully ignores the other woman to the point of driving Apsara to the brink of madness. As for Tarun, Didi showers him with suffocating love and attention, at the expense of her own sons. Her sick devotion to the spawn of her bigamist husband metastasizes into both an emotional and a literal hold on the boy. All this under the spineless Masterji’s nose. Upadhyay’s depiction of incestuous relations can be lurid, but this makes for a succinct portrayal of Didi’s depravity. Not for the faint of heart. --Donna Chavez


Praise for The City Son

"Fearless . . . There's an eerie element of black magic in Didi's Svengali-like manipulation that evokes the domestic horror novels of Shirley Jackson. This superb book stages an intensely powerful showdown."  
—The Wall Street Journal

“Reading Samrat Upadhyay's disturbing new novel, The City Son, is the literary equivalent of watching a horror film. His style is assured and unadorned. The occasional metaphor, such as 'this dead blackbird inside her,' arrives to arresting effect. Upadhyay leaves us holding our breaths.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[The City Son] examines the vengeance of a truly evil woman scorned . . . Not for the faint of heart.”

“Upadhyay tells his story with simple and direct prose . . . The multi-character narration adds dramatic depth.” 
—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Samrat Upadhyay

"Buddha's Orphans is an extraordinary achievement. It has the sweep and romantic grandeur of a great old-fashioned Russian novel, and, at the same time, the precision and intimacy of a beautiful collection of linked stories. Samrat Upadhyay has created a remarkable work, one to be savored and remembered."
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

"Upadhyay has masterfully blended history, tragedy, politics and romance to create the arresting story of a family that is at once unique and universal, set against the backdrop of a vibrant, complicated, modern Nepal that will fascinate readers."
—Chitra Divakaruni, author of One Amazing Thing and Palace of Illusion

“Subtle and spiritually complex . . . Mr. Upadhyay’s stories bring us into contact with a world that is somehow both far away and very familiar.”
The New York Times

"The Guru of Love effectively weaves together the complicated dichotomies of man and mistress, love and lust, tradition and modernity."
USA Today

"Reads like a graceful, page-turning mixture of stirring romance and social commentary."
Entertainment Weekly

“[Upadhyay’s] characters linger. They are captured with such concise, illuminating precision that one begins to feel that they just might be real.”
Christian Science Monitor

"A triumph, a ravishingly seductive novel."

“[Upadhyay is] among the smoothest and most noiseless of contemporary writers”
The Los Angeles Times

“[Upadhyay’s] stories have been burnished until they glow with visual and emotional precision.”
Washington Post Book World

"Highly entertaining . . . a major writer-in-the-making."
The Indiana Express

“In an assured and subtle manner, Upadhyay anchors small yet potent epiphanies in a place called Kathmandu, and quietly calls it home.”
Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1190 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616953810
  • Publisher: Soho Press (June 17, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HK42F84
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,035 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He thinks of himself as a holder of secrets." November 29, 2014
The City Son is a hard-hitting book, one that punches the reader right between the eyes, and then does it again. Its content matter is horrific but the writer knows what he is talking about as he describes a young boy groomed to be sexually abused.

Didi and her two sons live in the country. Her husband, The Masterji, is a learned teacher who lives in the city and often doesn't come home for a year at a time. As the book opens, someone comes to Didi and tells her that her husband has another wife and child in the city. The child is described as 'beautiful'. Didi picks up and heads to the city and walks in on her husband and his second wife, Apsara, and Aspara's son Tarun. Didi quickly takes over all the household duties like cooking, cleaning, and even the raising of Tarun whom she calls her own.

Didi's arrival and her manner of being make Aspara so distraught that, with time, she loses her mind and becomes too mentally ill to care for Tarun. Tarun is in Didi's care and she quickly begins to treat him more like a lover than a child. He is only about ten years old, or even younger, when the book starts, but Didi begins sexual play with him right away. The sexuality of their relationship continues up till Tarun's twenties and even after he is married. His obsession with Didi is so profound that he is unable to consummate his marriage.

The novel shows how a child is groomed into a sexual relationship, easily mistaking love and sex. Tarun has no other mother besides Didi and he is terrified that she will leave him. If he does something that does not please her, she withholds her affection and he feels lost. He feels shame, secrecy and silence which are the hallmarks of an abused child.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Upadhyay, you have a new fan. March 10, 2015
So I'm confused why there aren't more reviews of this book here! What a horrible story written so captivatingly. I stayed up until 2 am to finish it because how can one sleep without knowing how it's going to end??

- the words, language, poetry, prose
- the story is new, different, captivating
- the pace of 90% of the book

- the very end needed to be longer. waaaaay too many unanswered questions for me. but it wasn't enough to kill the book.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing Tale August 30, 2014
By Teddy
Format:Kindle Edition
The city son by Updhyay is okay read. Not really, really bad. Updhyay is not only writer who writes in English, I have read stories and poems from other really good Nepalese authors—writing in English, e.g, Manjushree Thapa, Santosh Kalwar, Rabi Thapa, and Prajwal Parajuly. However, this story I felt sullen. It is a disturbing tale—of mother and son relationship—in one of the poorest nation on earth—someone said [to me] that though the Nation is poor, people out there are rich. Anyway, this book’s translation was unfair, especially for the native English speaking person and there is not really much into the story.
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More About the Author

SAMRAT UPADHYAY is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, a Whiting Award winner, The Royal Ghosts, and The Guru of Love, a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. He has written for the New York Times and has appeared on BBC Radio and National Public Radio. Upadhyay directs the creative writing program at Indiana University.

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