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.
About the Author
Siddhartha Deb was born in northeastern India and lives in Harlem, New York. He is the author of the novels The Point of Return, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and An Outline of the Republic, longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. His nonfiction book, The Beautiful and the Damned, was a finalist for the Orwell Prize and received the PEN Open award. Deb’s journalism and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, n+1, The Nation, and Dissent. Visit him online at siddharthadeb.com.
Praise for The Light at the End of the World
“An epic story that spans centuries and weaves together in unexpected and thought-provoking ways.” —BookBub
“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
“Deb exquisitely blends India’s past, present, and future in a brilliant, phantasmagoric pilgrimage across time, space, and dimension . . . Combining elementsof 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 “An ambitious and phantasmagoric epic . . . Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author uses magic realism to shed new light on historical events. Filled with poetic imagery and dialogue, and subtle connections among the stories, this is a novel to get lost in.” —Publishers Weekly
“A visionary novel . . . Deb has accessed the omnivorous, madcap spirit of Midnight’s Children–era Salman Rushdie.” —Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Siddhartha Deb
“Splendid . . . There is a nuance to even the direst of Deb’s pessimisms—an acknowledgement that India’s lives are newly precarious precisely because they could swing either the way of opportunity or the way of ruin.” —The New York Times “Deb’s touch is sure, his voice pure, his understanding faultless.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“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
“[An] incisive new look at life on the subcontinent . . . For those who have never been to India, the book will be an eye-opening read. For those more familiar with the country, it will be essential.” —The Daily