An Atlas of Impossible Longing – Anuradha Roy

I read a few pages of the hardbound copy of this book every morning last week. On Saturday, I finished it in a marathon reading session. It was done. I had got back to the habit of reading books, again. I had crept away from the habit citing lack of books as the problem. Then I found a library – a public library on Facebook – in Bharuch.

An Atlas of Impossible Longing is a book by Anuradha Roy. Her debut book. The story straddles several genres – reverse migration from cities, nostalgia, romance, loneliness, partition stories, a tale on generations of a family, and much more. It doesn’t work seriously towards fitting into any genre and this is what endeared me to this book at first. I read through this book in fits and starts, through early morning bus rides cutting across small villages that dot the road between Bharuch and Dahej. As industries rise up, I am reminded that it is time to close the book. It is for running this industry that the lead character in the first part of the book comes to a small town.

As the story unfolds in the later two generations, it turns to romance and towards loneliness. These aspects take up more time of the central character. The story also moves from the very simple and the very practical to the very complicated and the very romantic. In a way, it traces the generational differences between the several Indian generations into the seventies and the eighties. It explores how as we get more and more crowded we become more and more lonely and yearn for company.

These are two themes that I noticed developing through the length of the book. The author must be applauded for some very descriptive settings and for some new analogies. I would have prefered a paperback to a hard bound copy of the book. I also felt that the male characters weren’t as well-developed as the female leads. Something to work on, I guess.

I now have a copy of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi in my hands.

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