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The Light at the End of the World

“I was in awe of Deb’s imagination and razor-sharp prose. The hallucinatory quality of his narrative reminded me of William Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” while its apocalyptic trajectory had echoes of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” — Abraham Verghese, The New York Times 

The Light at the End of the World is full of intriguing puzzles and opacities, but what brings it to life is less its inventiveness than its galvanizing anger, its outraged awareness of exploitation and cruelty. It travels, unbounded, into the past and the future, yet it always meets the reader in the middle of these destinations, the broken world of the present.”The Wall Street Journal

“Deb constructs an intricate version of an India where the historical present connects to a parallel sci-fi world. Light is an epic that calls to mind David Mitchell, Octavia Butler, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but the author creates his own particularly chilling atmosphere.” — Bethanne Patrick, CultureWag

“A visionary novel… Deb has accessed the omnivorous, madcap spirit of Midnight’s Children-era Salman Rushdie.”Kirkus Reviews

“Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez… an ambitious and phantasmagoric epic spanning two centuries of India’s tumultuous history.”Publishers Weekly

“A robust collage that reflects a rich, uncanny imagination. In the wide-ranging, rhapsodic novel The Light at the End of the World, unearthed stories illuminate the coverups in the official versions of history.”Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

“Deb exquisitely blends India’s past, present, and future in a brilliant, phantasmagoric pilgrimage across time, space, and dimension . . . Combining elements of magical realism and Indian history and mythology, The Light at the End of the World is an imaginative, mind-bending reading experience.” Booklist, Starred Review

“Abundantly and realistically detailed, yet spiked with fantastical elements from mysterious cellphone messages to a ticktock army, the four main sections are so rich and so freighted with ideas that each could stand alone as its own novel. Linking them serves to create a strong sense of life in India and a sink-into-it read for lovers of big books. Highly recommended for readers interested in history, politics, and literary fiction.” — Library Journal, Starred Review

“A work of genius—impassioned, singular, hallucinatory, uncanny—Siddhartha Deb has invented a new kind of subcontinental novel.” — Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs

“Big, ambitious, inventive, sweeping, and instantly addictive, The Light at the End of the World announces itself as a new kind of Great Indian Novel—a kind I’ve been craving. I was instantly hooked.” — Sanjena Sathian, author of Gold Diggers

“An ambitious, century-spanning book . . . Myth blends into technology, beast into human, and flesh into machine in Deb’s chilling, precisely rendered prose. An indelible, prophetic novel.” — Madhuri Vijay, author of The Far Field

“Siddhartha Deb has captured the darkness of India today in this ghostly and chilling novel. It is hard to think of finer writers and harder still to think of writers that can match Deb’s grace and talent when writing about this terrifying, turbulent world of ours.” — Fatima Bhutto, author of Songs of Blood and Sword

Connecting India’s tumultuous 19th and 20th centuries to its distant past and its potentially apocalyptic future, this sweeping tale of rebellion, courage, and brutality reinvents fiction for our time.

Delhi, the near future: Bibi, a low-ranking employee of a global consulting firm, is tasked with finding a man long thought to be dead but who now appears to be the source of a vast collection of documents. The trove purports to reveal the secrets of the Indian government, including detention centers, mutated creatures, engineered viruses, experimental weapons, and alien wrecks discovered in remote mountain areas.

Bhopal, 1984: an assassin tracks his prey through an Indian city that will shortly be the site of the worst industrial disaster in the history of the world.

Calcutta, 1947: a veterinary student’s life and work connect him to an ancient Vedic aircraft that might stave off genocide.

And in 1859, a British soldier rides with his detachment to the Himalayas in search of the last surviving leader of an anti-colonial rebellion.

These timelines interweave to form a kaleidoscopic, epic novel in which each protagonist must come to terms with the buried truths of their times as well as with the parallel universe that connects them all, through automatons, spirits, spacecraft, and aliens. The Light at the End of the World, Siddhartha Deb’s first novel in fifteen years, is a magisterial work of shifting forms, expanding the possibilities of fiction while bringing to life the India of our times.

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Twilight Prisoners

Traveling across India, meeting Hindu zealots, armed insurgents, jailed dissidents, and politicians and thinkers from across the political spectrum, Siddhartha Deb reveals a country in which forces old and new have aligned to endanger democracy. The result is an absorbing—and disturbing—portrait. What’s emerging in the world’s largest democracy is nothing less than a fundamentalist dystopia, described here with a novelist’s precise language and eye for detail.

“Siddhartha Deb has been one of the clearest, most articulate, and consistent voices documenting the rise of Hindu nationalism and its organic links to neoliberalism in India.” — Arundhati Roy.

“Siddhartha Deb is one of our greatest writers; in both fiction and journalism, he relentlessly challenges genres and received ideas. As a book about India, and simply as a book about contemporary global politics, Twilight Prisoners is in a class of its own, interrogating the implacable rise of the Hindu right, while going deeper than anyone else dares into the history of India’s failures and crimes against its people. In its portraits of titanic contemporary figures of resistance, it also provides something vanishingly rare: a margin of hope. A major and necessary book.” — Nikil Saval

“Eye-opening reports on the state of what is often called the world’s largest democracy.” — Sujatha Gidla

“Siddhartha Deb has the largeness of mind and spirit to see the great processes afflicting India and to show us the humanity and dreams of people who refuse to surrender.” — Vijay Prashad 

Siddhartha Deb, Author
Photo by Nina Subin

About The Author

Born in Shillong, north-eastern India, Siddhartha Deb lives in Harlem, New York. His fiction and nonfiction have been longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, and been awarded the Pen Open prize. His journalism and essays have appeared in The New York TimesThe GuardianThe New RepublicDissentThe BafflerN+1, and Caravan.