We That Are Young

Knopf. Aug. 2018. 496p. ISBN 9780525521525. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525521532. F
OrangeReviewStarEvery now and then, a writer grabs you in the first paragraph and doesn't let go. Such is the case with Taneja, whose stunning debut brims with familial jealousy, sexual tension, political turmoil, and shocking violence. Set in India during the anticorruption riots of the current decade, it hews closely to the tragic story line of Shakespeare's King Lear. Three sisters, Gargi, Radha, and Sita, have been raised under the iron rule of their father, Bapu Devraj, a developer with tentacles in every area of Indian business. At 75, Bapu is preparing to divide the company among his two older daughters and their spouses just as two prodigals return to the fold. Jivan, illegitimate son of Bapu's right-hand man, Ranjit Singh, exiled to the States as a youngster, now boasts a Harvard degree and a yen for money. Sita, an environmentalist, educated in London, opposes the expansion of the company's ostentatious luxury hotel line into politically fraught Kashmir. This stance divides the family and sets in motion a series of events that force readers to rethink the motivations and loyalties of every character.
VERDICT Taneja writes with a passion and verve that reflects her human rights reporter and filmmaker background. Highly recommended for socially conscious readers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/26/18.]

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