The Impressionist is Hari Kunzru's sweeping novel of India, empire and identity. In India, at the birth of the last century, an infant is brought howling into the world, his remarkable paleness marking him out from his brown-skinned fellows. Revered at first, he is later cast out from his wealthy home when his true parentage is revealed. So begins ...
The Impressionist is Hari Kunzru's sweeping novel of India, empire and identity. In India, at the birth of the last century, an infant is brought howling into the world, his remarkable paleness marking him out from his brown-skinned fellows. Revered at first, he is later cast out from his wealthy home when his true parentage is revealed. So begins Pran Nath's odyssey of self-discovery - a journey that will take him from the streets of Agra, via the red light district of Bombay, to the brick cloisters of Oxford and beyond - as he struggles to understand who he really is. "Delectable, sweeping, empire-savaging, audaciously playful...Kunzru writes with wry certitude and cinematic precision". (The New York Times). "Grand, sprawling, extravagant, lyrical...A work so vibrant and richly imagined that you can smell the incense". (Esquire). "Epic in scale and rich in historical detail ...the narrative is deft and swift ...carrying the reader along effortlessly. This first novel has startling depth, ambition and craftmanship". (Time Out). Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions and Gods Without Men, and the story collection Noise. He lives in New York.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-11-19 Pre-pub buzz about this impressive debut includes a record $1.8-million book deal and predictions of literary renown for its 30-year-old author. Charting the bizarre and picaresque journey of a chameleon-like figure from India to England to Africa, Kunzru keenly explores themes of racial and ethnic identity and overweening British pride. Until 1918, his 15th year, spoiled Pran Nath believes that he is the son of a wealthy Kashmiri merchant and a disturbed woman, Amrita, who died giving birth to him. When the housekeeper reveals that he is actually an Englishman's child, and thus a despised half-breed, he's thrown out on the street. After an involuntary stay in a brothel, a stint as a servant in the depraved household of the Nawab of Fatehpur, and a sojourn at a Bombay missionary's home, he moves on to England, where he pretends to be an orphaned heir, Jonathan Bridgeman. With each identity he assumes, the hero strives to become more and more like a pure Englishman and to hide his "tainted blood." As Bridgeman, Pran goes through Brideshead-era Oxford and falls in love with a seductive heartbreaker, Astarte Chapel. When she dumps him, he despairingly joins an anthropological expedition to the Fotse tribe in Africa; in the plot's most clever twist, he comes full circle with his real father's life. While the initial chapters are somewhat heavy-handed, and the plot stalls in its overfamiliar satire of the Oxford aesthetes, the African chapters exude a Paul Bowles-like power, and the seamlessly composed, vividly exotic set pieces exhibit an energy and density not usually found in debut fiction. London talents like Kunzru and Zadie Smith suggest that something like the Latin American boom of the '60s is happening in England. Author tour; rights sold in France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and U.K. (Apr.) Forecast: Kunzru's audacious version of the everyman antihero should establish his literary credentials, and his fast-moving plot should attract readers who like a good yarn. His experience as host of an English TV show should spin in the media, and Dutton's aggressive ad campaign will likely move the book toward the bestseller list. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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