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An Atlas of Impossible Longing

On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her husband searches for its cause as he shapes and reshapes his garden. As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with his home, with Bakul, with all that he has lost—and he knows that he must return.

Editor's Choice, New York Times.

One of the Year's Best Books, 2011

Nominated for
The Impac Award 2010
The Crossword Prize 2008
The Shakti Bhatt Prize 2009

  1. English (INDIA) Picador
  2. English (UK) Maclehose Press
  3. English (USA) Free Press
  4. Dutch: Prometheus
  5. Hebrew: Kinneret
  6. Italian: Bompiani
  7. Norwegian: Vigmostad and Bjørke
  8. Portuguese: Nova Frontiera
  9. Spanish: Salamandre
  10. Swedish: Forum
  11. French: Actes Sud
  12. Romanian: Humanitas
  13. Estonian: Varrak
  14. Lithuanian: Musukynga
  15. Bulgarian: Uniscorp
  16. Turkish: Pegasus
  17. Croatian: Fraktura 
  18. Arabic: Dar al Adab

"Every once in a great while, a novel comes along to remind you why you rummage through shelves in the first place. Why you peck like a magpie past the bright glitter of publishers’ promises. Why you read...This, you think, is the feeling you had as you read Great Expectations or Sophie’s Choice or The Kite Runner. This is why you read fiction at all"
MARIE ARANA, Washington Post

"Houses serve as powerful metaphors of refuge and claustrophobia, and the novel chronicles both the strength of domestic bonds and the wounds that parents and children, husbands and wives, inflict on each other”

"This gorgeous, sweeping novel, set over three generations of Bengali history, doesn’t boast at all. It is the quietest epic I have ever read"
Katie Presley, MS Magazine

"She defines her characters quickly and skillfully, she has a keen eye for landscape, and she knows how private lives can suggest the larger shape of the public world...Some longings really do remain impossible, and on its best pages this book knows it"

“History becomes lived time — lived, lost, escaped from, returned to, lost again, and then wonderfully regained, though not resolved — leaving us at once enriched and bereft, enriched because bereft”
Aveek Sen, The Telegraph

“A novel of beauty, poignancy and gut-churning suspense….Poetic and evocative, Roy's writing is a joy” Pearl Doherty,  Financial Times, UK

“Roy’s novel is engaging from start to finish and difficult to put down” Sunday Sun, UK

“Perhaps we all [harbour within us] an atlas of impossible longing, and the past and present of that terrain is beautifully mapped in this memorable novel”
Chandrahas Chaudhury, Live Mint, India

“Deftly and sensitively narrated”
The Independent, UK

“Now here is a perfect monsoon read: an exquisitely-written first novel that flows limpid and elegiac…you might find yourself unbearably moved by her delicate probing of the fragility of love and longing”
Brinda Bose, India Today

“Has a lyrical, almost elegiac quality...Read it for the haunting quality of its writing” Femina, India

“Takes a familiar tale of love and belonging that recalls classics from Great Expectations to The Cherry Orchard and imprints it with a voice that is so distinctively Roy’s own, you’d think she’d been doing this for decades”
The National, Abu Dhabi

“…sensitively told and poignantly set at the crossroads of modern Indian history”
The Hindu

“Roy throws out a handful of silken threads, then pulls them together to create a tapestry of the lives of three generations through a series of unexpected and mysterious sub-plots. Each small fragment of the family's story has its place. Each tells of its moment in time, but also helps build a picture of 50 years of Indian history that touches the heart with far more power than the ordinary narrative”
New Zealand Herald

“Having read this novel when it first appeared last year, I was sure a brisk skim would be enough on which to base a review of the paperback reissue. Such is the beauty of the writing, however, and so deftly is the book constructed, that it was impossible not to be drawn once again into Anuradha Roy’s India, and into that time before independence when, although political change was on the horizon, much remained as it had been for thousands of years”
The Witness, South Africa

“Roy… is part of the great Indian tradition of narrative inhabited by Vikram Seth and Anita Desai: knitting personal destinies into large historical and political events of the subcontinent, a gripping story that deftly weaves the destinies of the characters on a large period of time… yet in this gripping novel nothing is predictable”
Il Recensore, Italy

“The essential thing is the deep poetry in the depiction of landscape and a driven narrative… Anuradha Roy is exceptionally mature, balanced, wise, omniscient — but not too much, because she knows how to respect the autonomy of her characters and does not plunge into the territory of ideology; she shows the world, tells a story … with superb simplicity of style”
ABC, Spain
“Contains numerous literary features that undeniably point to a great potential for brilliant writing. Roy has mastered a prose whose rhythm is sometimes slow but graceful, sometimes vivid and powerful, but without excesses, and full of sharp observations. Her depiction of landscape leaves traces of surreal brushstrokes and reveals a poetic sensibility, while her portraits of people are largely realistic. The narrative style is superb”
Tidningen Kulturen, Sweden

“It is hard to believe that this is the debut novel by Indian writer Anuradha Roy. Because this is an incredibly polished, masterful literary pearl”
Ohtulete, Estonia

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  Anuradha Roy bags coveted Sahitya Akademi Award, 22 others feted Anuradha Roy bagged the coveted Sahitya Akademi Award on Thursday. The author of 'All The Lives We Never Lived ' was felicitated along with 22 other authors for their exemplary contribution in the field of literature. This is the fourth book penned by the 40-something Roy. This book also won the prestigious Tata Book of the Year Award for Fiction in 2018. The book revolves around the life and times of a horticulturalist Myshkin, who narrates his life story, and his unending wait for letters from etters from the mother who abandoned him, for greener pastures in another country. Roy, who lives in Ranikhet, has previously written 'An Atlas of Impossible Longing', 'The Folded Earth' and 'Sleeping on Jupiter' which won the DSC Prize for Fiction 2016. It was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in the year 2015. Read more at: