Cardiff in the 1980s is a place where maths can get you noticed. Rumis Vasi is the town's 'maths prodigy': untangling numbers and Rubik's Cubes protects her from the harsh vagaries of the playground and gives a pattern to her world. But after years of her father's determined tutoring, Rumi finds that numbers are beginning to lose their innocence. India infuses her with a romantic sense of belonging and, as she grows older, and desire becomes a dirty word in the Vasi household, the idea of love is opened up to painful examination. In a voice that is by turns very funny and fiercely tender, Nikita Lalwani brings us a captivating story of high aspirations and deep longing, and of the sometime loneliness of childhood.
In her award-winning debut novel, Gifted, Nikita Lalwani crafted a brilliant coming-of-age story that "[called] to mind the work of such novelists as Zadie Smith and Monica Ali" (The Washington Post Book World). Now Lalwani turns her gimlet eye on an extraordinary village in India, and explores the thin boundary between morality and evil, innocence and guilt. After a long trip from London, twenty-seven-year-old BBC filmmaker Ray Bhullar arrives at the remote Indian village of Ashwer, which will be the subject of her newest documentary. From the outside, the town projects a cozy air of domesticity--small huts bordering earthen paths, men lounging and drinking tea, women guiding bright cloth through noisy sewing machines. Yet Ashwer is far from traditional. It is an experimental open prison, a village of convicted murderers and their families. As Ray and her crew settle in, they seek to win the trust of Ashwer's residents and administrators: Nandini, a women's counselor and herself an inmate; Jyoti, a prisoner's wife who is raising her children on the grounds; Sujay, the progressive founder and governor of the society. Ray aims to portray Ashwer as a model of tolerance, yet the longer she and her colleagues stay, the more their need for a dramatic story line intensifies. And as Ray's moral judgment competes with her professional obligation, her assignment takes an uneasy and disturbing turn. Incisive, moving, and superbly written, The Village deftly examines the limits of empathy, the slipperiness of reason, and the strength of our principles in the face of personal gain.Praise for The Village "Powerful . . . One of the novel's great strengths is how it maintains an ambience of mystery and menace."--The New York Times Book Review "Extraordinary . . . Lalwani writes with wonderful clarity and intelligence."--The Times (U.K.) "The Village can creep up and grab you unawares."--Toronto Star "[Lalwani's] prose is evocative and excellent."--Publishers Weekly "Thoughtful and beautifully written."--The Guardian (U.K.) "Gripping."--Marie Claire (U.K.)"Intelligent and disturbing . . . a sharply observed, highly personal book."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"A thoughtful novel that envelops us in the oppression and beauty of the rural prison . . . Each voice is distinct, believable and stubborn in its refusal to be easily known. . . . Touchingly evocative."--Financial Times "Thoughtfully and often beautifully written . . . a candid exploration of journalistic ethics."--The ObserverFrom the Hardcover edition.rFrom the Hardcover edition.
The long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed, Booker longlisted Gifted, a provocative novel about an experimental open prison in India and the havoc a team of journalists wreaks on the delicate moral code of the inmates. After a long journey from England, Ray Bhullar arrives early on a winter morning at the gates of a remote Indian village called Ashwer which will be her home for the next three months. The door of the hut she will share with Serena, her English co-worker, is a loose sheet of metal, the windows simple holes in the walls. Beyond the lockless door, village life goes on as usual. And yet, the village is anything but normal. Despite the domestic chores being carried out, cooking, fetching water and sewing and laundering linens, Ashwer is a village of murderers, an experimental open prison. And when Ray and her crew take up residence, to observe and to make a documentary, it seems that they are innocent visitors into a violent world, on a mission to hold the place up to viewers as the ultimate example of tolerance. But the longer Ray and her colleagues stay and their need for drama intensifies, the line between innocence and guilt begins to blur and an unexpected and terrifying new kind of cruelty emerges. A mesmerizing and heartfelt tale of manipulation and personal morality, Nikita Lalwani's new novel brilliantly exposes how truly frail our moral judgment can be.
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