The Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal [in Christian Science Monitor]
Tarun Tejpal’s debut novel, The Alchemy of Desire, begins and ends with the same words – but with a completely different meaning by book’s end. Over the course of 518 pages, an unnamed writer takes a roundabout journey that leaves him, on the final page (fittingly, on the last day of the millennium), a changed being.
Divided into five “books” – each named to reflect important concepts in Hinduism – The Alchemy of Desire straddles two centuries, three continents, multiple generations, and whole histories that include the personal, philosophical, and political. The underlying story is of a young Indian couple madly in love: the nameless writer/narrator and his vibrant young wife, aptly named Fizz. What they lack in finances, they make up for in an endless devotion, even obsession, with each another.
A journalist by trade, now rather disillusioned, the narrator sets out to write a novel, minutely planning the endeavor in step-by-step increments. Sadly, the result – called The Inheritors – finds its end at the bottom of a lake. …[click here for more]
Tidbit: Tarun Tejpal was a guest at SALTAF 2006 (South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival), a much-anticipated, highly-attended annual fall event sponsored by the Smithsonian APA Program and NetSAP-DC.