Norton. Apr. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781324075011. $28.99. F
The three parts of the newest novel by the Booker Prize–shortlisted Mukherjee (The Lives of Others) hang together tenuously, connected by the poor choices made by the haves of the world and the effect of those choices on the have-nots. In part one, Ayush, an editor for a mid-level publishing firm, is in the grip of ever-worsening OCD. To the despair of his family, he becomes obsessed with animal cruelty and shrinking planetary resources. Two of Ayush’s authors take over the following sections of this novel. The second story concerns a professor whose life begins to unravel after the ride-share car in which she is a passenger is involved in a hit and run. With only a murky recall of the event, she searches out the driver, an undocumented immigrant, and becomes involved with him and his family. Part three moves from cosmopolitan London to West Bengal, where the fortunes of one desperately poor family change with a government gift of a cow.
VERDICT These pages abound with misery: animal mistreatment, the harsh plight of refugees, and dire poverty. But the rewards--indelible images, admirable story-telling, and wicked good writing--are many.
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