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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.

The Point of Return

New York Times Notable Book of the Year
The Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year
The Hindu Books of the Year

 “Siddhartha Deb has imagined a kind of Indian Don Quixote… Storytelling of the kind Deb lavishes … is rare and precious and uplifting.” – The New York Times Book Review
“A coming-of-age story not just of one young man, but of a nation, this subtle novel asks questions about authority, patriarchy and how people are damaged by power.” – The Independent, UK
“Siddhartha Deb is an exquisite writer. Beautifully written and achingly sad, his novel manages to distil great art from the humblest of lives.” – The Age, Melbourne
“Brilliantly and fiercely rooted in a past all but lost in official history, in a locality all but extinguished by cartographic boundaries.” – The Times Literary Supplement, UK
“Deb’s touch is sure, his voice pure, his understanding faultless.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Set in the remote, northeastern hills of India, The Point of Return revolves around the father-son relationship of a willful boy, Babu, and Doctor Dam, an enigmatic product of colonial rule and Nehruvian nationalism. Told in reverse chronological order, the novel examines an India where the ideals that brought freedom from colonial rule are beginning to crack under the pressure of new rebellions and conflicts. For Dr. Dam and Babu, this has meant living as strangers in the same home, puzzled and resentful, tied only by blood. As the father grows weary and old and the son tries to understand him, clashes between ethnic groups in their small town show them to be strangers to their country as well. Before long, Babu finds himself embarking on a great journey, an odyssey through the memories of his father, his family, and his nation.

An Outline of the Republic: A Novel​

The Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
Finalist, Hutch-Crossword Award, India
Longlist, International Impac Dublin Literary Award
“A fluid, thoughtful novelist intent on retracing his steps … around the very idea of the nation itself.” – Village Voice
“Taut with dramatic tension and teeming with vivid characters,… a telling commentary on India today.” – Tabish Khair, The Guardian, UK
“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.” – Publisher’s Weekly
‘Bustling with colorful characters and sudden confessions, An Outline of the Republic explores a provocative question: What, if anything, does India represent this far from the center of the nation’s power?” – The New York Times
“Siddhartha Deb’s evocation of an unknown India … is thoroughly sinister and effective.” – The Daily Telegraph, UK
Intrigued by a disturbing photograph of a young woman, a Calcutta journalist embarks on a quest to learn the story behind the violent incident captured on film – a strange odyssey that leads him to a remote corner of India mired in civil strife and sustained by timber, drugs, and guns. Yet the truth he hopes to uncover is as uncertain as the mysterious woman he seeks, smoldering dangerously on the border between illusion and reality.

The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India

PEN Open Prize 2012
Finalist, George Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2012
Publishers Weekly Books of the Year
The Globe and Mail Books of the Year
The Beautiful and the Damned examines India’s many contradictions through individual and extraordinary perspectives. With lyrical and commanding prose, Deb introduces the reader to an unforgettable group of Indians, including a Gatsby-like mogul in Delhi whose hobby is producing big-budget gangster films that no one sees; a wiry, dusty farmer named Gopeti whose village is plagued by suicides and was the epicenter of a riot; and a waitress named Esther who has set aside her degrees in biochemistry and botany to serve Coca-Cola to arms dealers at an upscale hotel called Shangri La. 
Like no other writer, Deb humanizes the post-globalization experience―its advantages, failures, and absurdities. A personal, narrative work of journalism and cultural analysis in the same vein as Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family and V. S. Naipaul’s India series, The Beautiful and the Damned is an important and incisive new work.

“This brave book strikes a rare note – as a work of journalism and as an interpretation of India’s maladies. [It] digs beneath the self-congratulatory stories India tells itself – all the better to expose the stories it seeks to repress.” – Parul Sehgal, Bookforum
“As a first-hand report, this is authentic, assured and absolutely engrossing, acutely pinpointing the aspirational tragi-comic ironies of modern India.” – The Times, UK
“A brilliant and sensitive book that succeeds in shifting our gaze from the dazzling glass and steel towers of the business park to the collateral damage suffered by people caught in the age-old tensions between economic mirage, constricting cultural tradition and overbearing social expectation.” – Sunday Times, UK
“Anyone wanting to understand contemporary India’s glaring contradictions, its juxtapositions of glittering boomtowns with horrific slums, should read Deb’s wonderfully researched and elegantly written account.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune