An absorbing, exceptionally moving novel that traces the arc of a man’s life, an ordinary life made exceptional by the fact that he has loved and has been loved in turn
Jadunath Kunwar’s beginnings are humble, even inauspicious. In 1935 in a village near George Orwell’s birthplace, Jadu’s mother, while pregnant with him, nearly dies from a cobra bite. When we see Jadu again, he is in college, meeting the Sherpa who first summited Everest and wondering what it means to be modern. As his life skates between the mythical and the mundane, and as changes big and small sweep across India, Jadu finds meaning in the most unexpected places. He befriends poets and politicians. He becomes a historian. And he has a daughter, Jugnu, a television journalist with a career in the United States—whose own story recasts the past in a new light. Piercing, fleet-footed, and undeniably resonant, here is a novel from a singularly gifted writer about how we tell stories and write history, how individuals play a counterpoint to big movements, how no single life is without consequence.
About the Author
AMITAVA KUMAR was born in Ara, India, and grew up in the nearby town of Patna. He is the author of the novel Immigrant, Montana, as well as several other books of nonfiction and fiction. He lives in Poughkeepsie, New York, and teaches at Vassar College.
“This profound book is full of lives whose beauty lies in the wholeness of their telling. A father, a daughter, a crime, a country being born, a migration, another country, a plague. ‘We are in touch with a great astonishing mystery when we put honest words down on paper to register a life and to offer witness. Everything else is ordinary,’ Kumar writes. His novel offers magnificent witness, and is not ordinary but extraordinary.” —Salman Rushdie
“What makes a life? My Beloved Life addresses this most fundamental of questions with all of Amitava Kumar’s trademark wisdom and wit. A novel of vaulting ambition and tenderness, about how histories, both personal and national, are built, refracted, and revised.” —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies
“My Beloved Life is storytelling at its best . . . A moving collection of memories and experiences entangled with world history . . . Imagine finding yourself in the company of a stranger. A simple hello organically morphs into hours of conversation, full of resonating and enlightening stories. This is the feeling one gets while reading My Beloved Life.” —BookPage (starred)
“An immersive, moving portrait that steadily gains intensity, vividness, and surprise . . . It pays tribute to two people who make noticing, attentiveness, and storytelling the central pillars of their lives.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Kumar unfurls a majestic Indian family saga in successive bildungsroman narratives of a father and daughter . . . A stunning final chapter sheds new light on their stories . . . Kumar excels at blending mysticism and a refined cosmopolitan perspective . . . Readers will find much to savor.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)