Somewhere along the way, the Book Fairy (i.e., my youngest) dropped off a few books, and I've been making my way through them.
Recently, the choice was Anuradha Roy's The Folded Earth.
I didn't know much about The Folded Earth, nor about Roy; this is not surprising, I gather, as she's a new writer and perhaps not that well known.
She may be new, but she's certainly worthy of being well known: The Folded Earth is a superb novel.
It's set in modern times, in a small town in the Himalayan foothills of northern India. Our narrator, Maya, has found herself here somewhat accidentally, and is part of an assemblage of eccentric characters from all sorts of different backgrounds and heritages who find themselves living their lives in a most vibrant, vivid way.
Things happen, people come and go, Major Events Occur, the tragedy of Maya's life is slowly revealed and explored and absorbed, and before you even notice you're at the end of this marvelous book.
As you go, there are small mysteries and big ones. The biggest, of course, is Maya's, but there are many others. There is an amusing sub-plot involving Nehru and Lord Mountbatten, various commentaries on the changes underway in Indian society, side-trips into cultural traditions, and more, but through it all the impression that stays with me is the effortless grace of Roy's writing.
She has that sort of natural sense of who people are, how they behave, what they say, and why they do what they do, that makes you feel like you're right there, sitting on a bench, watching it all unfold, listening to the same words she's hearing, breathing the same air they're breathing.
It would be too much to claim that The Folded Earth is perfect, but then again I'm not sure Roy would take offense. Perhaps better, it has that feeling of being "right", that it-could-happen-here-and-in-fact-something-like-it-just-did feeling that you get from reading a story and realizing that, in a way, this story, like all the best stories, starts and ends with the people just down the street from you, living and loving and making their way through their lives.
If you get a chance to pick up one of Roy's books, I think you'd enjoy it; I'm certainly looking forward to following her career and reading more.