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Sleeping on Jupiter

A train stops at a railway station. A young woman jumps off. She has wild hair, sloppy clothes, a distracted air. She looks Indian, yet she is somehow not. The sudden violence of what happens next leaves the other passengers gasping.The train terminates at Jarmuli, a temple town by the sea. Here, among pilgrims, priests and ashrams, three old women disembark only to encounter the girl once again. What is someone like her doing in this remote corner, which attracts only worshippers? Over the next five days, the old women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide finds ecstasy in forbidden love; and the girl is joined by a photographer battling his own demons. The fullforce of the evil and violence beneath the serene surface of the town becomes evident when their lives overlap and collide. Unexpected connections are revealed between devotion and violence, friendship and fear as Jarmuli is revealed as a place with a long, dark past that transforms all who encounter it. This is a stark and unflinching novel by a spellbinding storyteller, about religion, love, and violence in the modern world.
THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2015 (longlist)

Financial Express: Summer's Hot Reads

HT Brunch Book Club Recommendation

“An unflinching novel from one of India's greatest living authors.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

"Compulsively readable"

New York Times


THE NATIONAL, UAE: Top Ten International Titles of the Year
HINDUSTAN TIMES, Delhi "The books that defined 2015"
IDIVA, Mumbai: 11 Books to read before 2015 ends


1. English (INDIA): Hachette
2. English (UK): MacLehose Press/ Quercus
3. English (USA) Graywolf
4. French: Actes Sud
5. Italian: Bompiani
6: Dutch: Prometheus
7. Polish: Poznanskie
8. English (Large Print): F. A. Thorpe
9. Audio Book: High Bridge  


"...restrained and devastating Sleeping on Jupiter... balances formal neatness with raw political invective about the treatment of women in India"
Tim Martin, Daily Telegraph

"Roy does not adjudicate between these positions. She holds her story in a fine balance, scrupulously turning from one perspective to another in order to show the often yawning gap between how we imagine ourselves and how others see us... she writes in a lucid, realist manner, contrasting her restraint with the violence of her subject (the colour red is everywhere, page after page has images of blood). But this not a conventional novel, because it is to freighted with ambiguity and impotence."

Kate Webb, Times Literary Supplement

"Concise [and] elegant. . . . The novel's examination of violence, sexism, and spirituality is powerful."

New Yorker

“Roy writes beautifully. . . . Readers will be moved and changed by this evocative, subtle novel on modern India as it reaches its conclusions told with dark beauty and a dreamlike intensity.”

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Roy’s novel is unflinchingly violent, and incorporates themes of religion, art, and the kind of history that some would prefer to leave in the past.”—Men’s Journal

“Stunning. . . . Roy’s poetic prose adds to her novel’s suspenseful atmosphere. . . . Ultimately hopeful despite the tragedies it depicts, Sleeping on Jupiter is a breathtaking read that will transport and haunt you.”


“[Sleeping on Jupiter] addresses sexism and homophobia and masculine violence in a new way. . . . Jupiter is that rarest of novels: a fiction that serves as an agent of social change.”

Seattle Weekly

“A magnificently crafted, luminous tale. . . . A striking quality of Roy's style is her ability to weave the beauty of a place, culture, and people through magnificent prose while drawing back the curtain to reveal the turbulence underneath. . . . With an unflinching eye, Roy crafts her story with elegance and dexterity. . . Sleeping on Jupiter is not just an important read, but an essential one."

Washington Independent Review of Books

“Roy crafts a riveting tale of religion, family and violence that is nearly impossible to put down.”

Michigan Daily

“With her mastery of atmosphere and setting, Roy illuminates pervading themes of misogyny, abuse, identity, and desire to luminous and provocative effect.”


“The strength of this novel lies in the first-person narration of Nomi, who recounts her tale of loss and abuse in beautiful, unflinching language.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The overlapping stories make for a rich and absorbing consideration of where the past ends and the present begins.”

Publishers Weekly

“Sleeping On Jupiter depicts a complex world beneath the surface of a tourist-trap town. This is an India laid bare and un-romanticized. Roy’s characters are frustrated by poverty, inequality, and religious reverence. Their anger shakes the temple walls, only to be pacified occasionally by the silly songs of the seaside tea-stall owner. The destination for these characters is uncertain, but like the train that brought them, they travel on.”

The Rumpus

“Sleeping on Jupiter is a timely exploration of the recently exposed casual brutality that men practice against women in India. At the same time, this novel will far outlive its topicality because of its gossamer-like story that avoids the polemical, and its compassionate portrait of human error and frailty. The novel’s canvas feels epic because of Roy’s deft ability to say so much in quick vivid brushstrokes. Long after I had closed the book, its chords still rang in me.”

Shyam Selvadurai, author of The Hungry Ghosts

"unshowy perceptiveness with which it addresses big themes such as religious hypocrisy and violence towards women in Indian society"

Claire Armitstead, The Guardian

"Roy’s chiselled prose allows her to expose the endless, treacherous hypocrisies of Indian society...raises many burning questions"

Meena Kandaswamy, the Guardian

"A rich, immersive novel about a group of people colonised by their pasts...[the] precise evocation of a sense of place, matched by an equally precise portrayal of interior states, all in unhurried, unshowy prose, makes Sleeping on Jupiter both accomplished and affecting"

Sanjay Sipahimalani, Indian Express

"The themes of innocence stolen, the refuge of the imagination, and the inclination to look away are handled with sensitivity and subtlety in some of the best prose of recent years encountered by this reader. Roy brings a painterly eye, her choice of detail bringing scenes to sensual life, while eschewing floridness: a masterclass rather in the art of restraint, the pared-back style enabling violence close to the surface to glint of its own accord."

Rebecca K. Morrison, The Independent

"Anuradha Roy’s brilliant new novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, is a riveting and poignant read...There’s a whole tapestry out there: lost innocence, displacement, violence, friendship, survival, unconventional love, rejection, and pain...all penned with excellent craft. The opening chapters are violent but etched in delicate, detached prose."

Suneetha Balakrishnana, The Hindu

"Well done to Anuradha Roy, who has managed to set her teeming and movingly beautiful novel Sleeping on Jupiter in both India and Norway." Katy Guest,

The Independent

"Both incredibly timely and extremely brave."

Lucy Scholes, The National

" [Sleeping on Jupiter] is not a thriller. But it has the rare quality that makes your heart race. You’re no longer a mere spectator, you’re part of the very narrative – because what possible explanation can there be for just how desperately you begin looking for closure"

Saudamini Jain, Hindustan Times

"A heart wrenching, yet beautiful portrait of resilience and feistiness of women in India...a haunting book of prose that is almost poetry"

Sarju Kaul, The Asian Age

"Sexual abuse is a difficult subject to write about but Roy avoids titillation by relating the incidents in the simplistic language of an innocent child, and in the first person, which reinforces the horror of what is happening... While Sleeping On Jupiter is ostensibly a novel about India and its particular relation to this particular problem, its implications reach far wider."

Jane Wallace, Asian Review of Books

"Memory and its mysteries make up one of Roy's favourite themes, and in this novel too, Nomi's exploration is less of the temple town than of memory's uncertain terrain"
Bhaswati Chakravorty, The Telegraph

"Here, in yet another finely written book, it is the sea, and specifically, the fictional town of Jarmuli that appears like a character, drawing the book’s human characters towards it, sometimes with seeming treacherous intent. After a brutal opening, aching in its intensity, the narrative unfolds in matryoshka style, revealing layers of the past like Russian nesting dolls"

Jaishree Misra, New Indian Express

"Playing hopscotch with narrative energy and moving with pointed fingers like one does in a whodunit, Sleeping on Jupiter is that nearly utopian beast – a literary page-turner....If you’ve ever lost something, you must read this novel. If you’ve ever found something you lost, you must read this novel too."

Sumana Roy,

"The different threads slowly interlace and of course, all the characters are caught in the same mesh. The inevitable denouement is one soaked in devastation and altogether inevitable. Roy’s deliberately restrained style of storytelling is effective. The reader gets it all: the story, the skeins lying just below the main story, the deeply felt emotions of all the people who inhabit this novel."
Sheila Kumar, Deccan Herald

"Simply Brilliant"

Reader's Club of Delhi

"Anuradha Roy’s consummate artistry in handling social critique is quickly revealed in the first few

pages. In fact, hers is a cinematic rendering: the stark black and white of the opening pages ... In keeping with the highest tradition of realism the novel holds up a mirror, and the ugly face of a society marked with prejudice and lawlessness stares back unapologetically"
Anuradha Marwah, Biblio, June 2015

"Took my breath away ... Magnificently disturbing storytelling"

Jaya Bhattacharjee Rose

"In the writing, I realise it is this courage that keeps me reading through to the end. It is not just Nomi’s...Instead, valour infuses and elevates nearly every character. Overarching all this is Roy’s own fearlessness as a writer — she is all raw feeling, and vivid life... In Sleeping on Jupiter, she has written a novel that speaks powerfully to her times. And in doing so, she manages to embrace both the ugly truths and the sudden luminescence that so distinguishes the human condition."

Smriti Daniel, Hindu Businessline

"Roy’s storytelling is practically flawless. The pace is taut and the characters compelling enough to keep the reader engaged until they have turned the very last page"

Annie Zaidi, Live Mint

"This is a sombre, serene tale worth reading, full of elegant stalling. An award-winning novelist, journalist and editor, Roy has been compared to Anita Brookner (Biblio), and the lyrical voice of her acclaimed debut An Atlas of Impossible Longing (2008) and The Folded Earth (2011) is acute here, too. She is the true successor of another Anita, Anita Desai, when she meditates on life’s ironies." Rajni George, Open

"Brief but powerful... and an unsettling and occasionally upsetting read, worth taking on for the quality of Anuradha Roy’s writing. Thom Cuell, BookMunch

"The elegance and beauty with which she writes takes my breath, and causes me to realize again how rare it is to find a book whose writing, story and relevance are equal in excellence." Dolcebellezza

"A beautiful novel... brings to mind Arun Kolatkar's poem Jejuri"

Mita Bose, Earthen Lamp

"Roy’s narrative weaves together memory and experience with craft and subtlety. In taking us through the miseries of one girl’s life it exposes its readers to lot more than that. The novel is poetic and most often the readers will find themselves delving into it with their natural instincts instead of being guided by a fixed textual logic established by the culmination of all events into some melodramatic sequence for an end." 

Meha Pande, Pioneer

"It’s a short novel and Munro-esque in its treatment of the subject matter – seamlessly flitting between the past and the present, amalgamating various characters’ stories to form a coherent narrative, and leaving it open ended for the reader to fill in and decipher. It needs immense restraint to let it go and not try to tie up everything with a neat little bow. She respects the intelligence of the reader and never spoon-feeds." 

Sujata Sahoo, Plus Minus More

"The different threads slowly interlace and of course, all the characters are caught in the same mesh. The inevitable denouement is one soaked in devastation and altogether inevitable. Roy’s deliberately restrained style of storytelling is effective. The reader gets it all: the story, the skeins lying just below the main story, the deeply felt emotions of all the people who inhabit this novel. It’s as much about the violence within as the violence without."

Sheila Kumar, Readfingers

"In Sleeping On Jupiter, besides the pivotal characters, the sea itself plays an outstanding part in it. As each character spends so much time on the shore, I can feel the sea zephyr on my face, the scorching sun on my skin, the salt on my lips, and I can hear the magnificent hum of the ocean. Roy’s writing has got a heart. Roy presents an India that I have always known — the one that is home to gods, demons, and the people who voluntarily lose themselves in the abyss in-between and many who are pushed into it. Her story belongs to everybody who dreams of an India that can annihilate the infamous ironies."

Deepika Ramesh, Worn Corners

"The prose is beautiful but Nomi’s story struck a personal chord so deep within that I found myself reacting physically at times. Feeling panicked, nauseous and as if the world was caving around me at a point in the story. It was devastating in a way I didn’t think was possible. This book ruined me in a way that I can’t even begin to write about the story. I don’t when I’ll recover. What I know is that it will live with me in a deep corner for quite some time."

Radhika Jit, Radikal Readings

"The precision of writing, striking prose and the earthy, humane narrative make this book stand out. The author’s exquisite eloquence and evocative writing makes a simple story much more precious. Sleeping on Jupiter is truly representative of modern India and the associated hypocrisies of our society.

Maa, Maati, Maanush


"Our summer readers also noticed a recurrent theme in all four of dreams and their many meanings. At the end of the discussion, when it came time for voting, "Sleeping on Jupiter" was unanimously chosen as Best Summer Read 2016"
Nicola's Book Club

THE NATIONAL, UAE: Top Ten International Titles of the Year

"Not one of the easiest reads of the year, but it certainly felt like one of the most-important. The Indian novelist lifted the lid on the hypocrisies of her country against a backdrop of abuse, brutality and painful memories as a 25-year-old film-maker’s assistant returned to the temple town of Jarmuli to confront the demons of her past. Only a courageous and talented novelist is able to coalesce such weighty, unsettling and yet topical issues into a compulsively readable book"

"This is not a book I highlight because it shares the entertaining qualities of my previous choices, but because it signals a departure from the stereotypes that can often characterise fiction from the subcontinent. Here Roy says what has previously been almost unsayable about violence towards women. It feels like a sea change in what we expect from South Asian literature – a topical story reimagined, a hard message, beautifully written."

"The novel lays bare the many forms of violence against women in India. Yet Roy’s women seem to be unbeaten: they are hardy, spirited and eager for life. Each violent moment is acutely imagined and presented with precision in Roy’s chiselled prose."


"With no power, phone signals or places to go during the recent Madras flood, reading was an option. When there was light, I read a book. When light failed, I lit a candle, and later, my Kindle. Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping On Jupiter kept me going through the night with its sharp prose and vivid descriptions..."


"Then there was Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter, another Man Booker nominee. Despite its ethereal name, this is a book looking at harsh realities – sexual abuse of women and children in India – and a conversation on the book at Asia House was framed around that very topic. Read about that here. Also take a look at our interview with Roy that was published ahead of this talk. Neither Sahota’s nor Roy’s books were light reads, but with their well-executed characters and moments of humour, they were certainly good reads."


"Sleeping on Jupiter gleams quietly in the smog. Thank God, our godmen didn’t hear of it or they would have got it banned! Searing and lyrical but most significant to me because of hopes raised by the writer’s name! When she wins a major international award there could be some global publicist zeroing in on Anuradha as the next buzzword in books"
-- academic and novelist Anuradha Marwah

HINDUSTAN TIMES, Delhi "The books that defined 2015"

IDIVA, Mumbai: 11 Books to read before 2015 ends


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