An Atlas of Impossible Longing

An Atlas of Impossible Longing

Book - 2011
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"Roy's impressive American debut covers multiple generations of an Indian family from the turn of the 20th century to India's partition. Three distinct sections revolve around Amulya, who runs an herbal medicine and fragrance business; his mentally ill wife, Kananbala, who spies on the goings-on of her English neighbors from the room Amulya keeps her locked in; their sons, Kamal and Nirmal; their wives; Nirmal's daughter Bakul, whose mother died in childbirth; and finally Mukunda, an orphan that Amulya helps support, at which point Nirmal brings Mukunda home as a companion for Bakul. Tales weave backward and forward, and characters wallow in their longings, occasionally taking action; Mukunda and Bakul form a lasting bond that doesn't change with their circumstances. The book unfolds in third person until the final section, when Mukunda steps in as narrator to provide a welcome personal perspective on years of events. Roy is especially good at sensory description, making the sounds, smells, and feel of Bengal come vividly to life. Cultures may differ, but longing and love are universal." --Publishers weekly.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2011
Edition: 1st Free Press trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9781451608625
Characteristics: 319 p. ; 22 cm


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Jan 06, 2019

Roy's writing is really beautiful, and her characters are complicated and relatable. Parts of the story are deeply sad (as one might expect from the title, a lot of unfulfilled longing). But the end was satisfying. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Jun 30, 2018

Excellent book, particularly if one is open to be placed in a completely different cultural context. Beautifully written. Roy examines the effect of patriarchy and the caste system on the lives of a family in Bengal, India, (now split into West Bengal, an Indian state and Bangladesh, a separate country) in the mid-1940s.

Mar 05, 2013

Beautifully written exploration of love, longing, and desire over three generations. Ultimately unsatisfying, as desire often is.

May 24, 2012

Roy's prose is simply incredible and her characters unflinchingly human. Reminiscent of Hemingway's East of Eden (but thankfully, not as dark).

May 01, 2012

Bengali story of a family. VERY happy ending. Quite well written, but does anyone really live in this world?


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