By Manil Suri
A University of Maryland mathematics professor, Indian-born Manil Suri is also an accomplished novelist whose work intertwines Hindu mythology with tragicomic stories of contemporary India. The City of Devi, his third novel, completes a thematic trilogy that includes The Death of Vishnu (2001), long-listed for the Booker Prize and short-listed for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and The Age of Shiva (**** May/June 2008).
THE STORY: In a near future plagued by terrorist attacks, tensions between India and Pakistan have erupted in ferocious sectarian violence, and rumors of an impending nuclear attack have propelled the 20 million residents of Mumbai into a tailspin of panic and confusion. As the stricken city splits itself into militant Hindu and Muslim districts, Sarita, a young Hindu statistician, is frantic to find her missing husband Karun, a physicist who left two weeks earlier for a conference. In an abandoned aquarium, she meets Jaz, a brazen, sophisticated gay Muslim man with reasons of his own for locating Karun, and the two join forces in an increasingly hazardous and terrifying landscape.
Norton. 400 pages. $26.95 ISBN: 9780393088755
Cleveland Plain Dealer ****
"The City of Devi should be viewed through the lens of the Bollywood romanticism from which it takes its inspiration--hyper-real, sensual, wild with colors, textures, tastes, transformations, and sometimes horrors. ... Full of sinewy plot turns and complex meanings, it is, in the end, a simple tale: a postmodern love story, of borderless affections and transcendent loyalties, with a wise, immeasurable kindness at its core." EARL PIKE
Seattle Times ****
"[Suri] weaves together elements of fantasy and mythology into an absorbing story of love. ... Suri's prose is reason enough to pick up the book, but what ultimately makes the reader turn the pages is the intertwined destinies of the three characters." BHARTI KIRCHNER
Washington Post ****
"We know from Kurt Vonnegut how scenes of carnage should blend with moments of comedy to sound bitter, but The City of Devi never dips toward cynicism, never loses its essential sweetness, no matter how cruel or kooky the action. ... Moments of...