About the book
'For some time now, I have been plagued, perhaps blessed, by dreams of rivers and seas, dreams of water.'
Just days after Albert James writes these lines to his son John, in London, he is dead. Abandoning a pretty girlfriend and the lab where he is completing his PhD, John flies to Delhi to join his mother in mourning.
A brilliant and controversial anthropologist, the nature of Albert James's research, and the circumstances of his death, are far from clear. On top of this, John must confront his mother's coolness, and the strangeness of the cremation ceremony that she has organised for his father. No sooner is the body consigned to the flames than a journalist arrives, determined to write a biography of the dead man. The widow will have nothing to do with the project, yet seems incapable of keeping away from the journalist.
In Tim Parks's masterly new novel, India, with its vast strangeness, the density and intensity of its street life, its indifference to all distinctions between the religious and the secular, is a constant source of distraction to these westerners in search of clarity and identity. To John, the enigma of his father's dreams of rivers and seas appears to be one with the greater mystery of the country.