IN A REMOTE TOWN IN THE HIMALAYA, Maya tries to put behind her a time of great sorrow. By day she teaches in a school and at night she types up drafts of a magnum opus by her landlord, a relic of princely India known to all as Diwan Sahib. Her bond with the eccentric scholar, and her friendship with a village girl, Charu, seem to offer her the chance of a new life in Ranikhet, where lush foothills meet clear skies.
As Maya finds out, no refuge is remote or small enough. The world she has come to love, where people are connected with nature, is endangered by the town’s new administration. The impending elections are hijacked by powerful outsiders who sow division and threaten the future of her school. Charu begins to behave strangely, and Maya soon understands that a new boy in the neighbourhood may be responsible for changes in her friend. When Diwan Sahib’s nephew arrives to set up his trekking company on their estate, she is drawn to him despite herself, but his disappearances into the mountains evoke painful echoes of the past.
By turn poetic, elegiac and comic, this is a many-layered and powerful narrative about characters struggling with their pasts, a novel that poignantly reveals the strange shapes that India’s religious and social conflicts can assume even on distant mountaintops.
The Folded Earth was published in February 2011 in the UK (MacLehose Press) and India (Hachette). Read an interview about the book here