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The Death of Vishnu


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A breathtaking debut novel by the author of The Age of Shiva Has sold almost 100,000 copies in the UK and is an international bestseller which has been translated into twenty #45;two languagesLonglisted for the Booker Prize; nominated for the PEN Faulkner Award, LA Times Book Award and WH Smith Book Award; winner of the Barnes & Noble 2001 Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction

About the Author

Manil Suri was born in Bombay in 1959 and is a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland. His first novel, The Death of Vishnu, was longlisted for the Booker Prize, nominated for the PEN Faulkner Award, the LA Times Book Award and the WH Smith Book Award. It won the Barnes & Noble 2001 Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction. Manil Suri was an inaugural winner of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. He is also the author of The Age of Shiva (Bloomsbury, 2008).


Vishnu, a dying alcoholic dwelling on a stairway landing of an apartment building in Bombay, comes to suspect that he is, in fact, the god Vishnu. He may also be hallucinating; his slow death ties together the stories of various inhabitants of the building: the comic feud of Mrs. Pathak and Mrs. Asrani; the elopement of a Muslim boy with an immature, movie-obsessed Hindu girl; the rational Mr. Jalal's crisis of faith; and Vishnu's own memories of love with the shallow prostitute Padmini. In an interview at story's end, Suri defines himself as an Indian writer and discusses the implications for his audience. While a layperson's familiarity with Hindu mythology and India's movie industry should suffice to follow the tale, a fuller understanding may elude many U.S. readers. A glossary, for instance, would be helpful, were such a thing possible on cassette. Narrated by John Lee, this audiobook is recommended with reservations. John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'Beautifully captures with great tenderness and depth the eternal war between duty and desire. This is a love letter to Bombay and its people' Sunday Express 'A magnificent debut, rich with humour, compassion and insight into what it is like to inhabit the melting pot that is contemporary Bombay, rich in celebration of humanity' Scotsman 'A wonder of a book. Astonishing' Amy Tan 'All the elements of great storytelling are here, the mystic transports of Ben Okri with the intimate charm of Arundhati Roy ... enchanting' Sunday Tribune

This is a remarkable first novel, whose lyric prose is further enhanced by Lee's soft, mesmerizing reading. The story hinges on the comatose alcoholic Vishnu, who lays dying on the first floor landing of the Bombay apartment building for which he is the houseboy. Suri has fashioned Vishnu as the conduit to each and all of the book's vibrant characters and their intertwined comic, tragic and melodramatic stories. Vishnu enables listeners to move easily through the real, the mystical, the metaphoric; as he gradually slips down into death, he crawls slowly up the stairs, recalling fine and funny scenes of his youth and early manhood. Even listeners unfamiliar with India's religions and the Hindu trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer will marvel at Suri's ability to reveal the tapestry and nuances of Indian culture through the activity contained in one small apartment building, to which Lee's rich and myriad Indian accents add atmosphere and humor. Simultaneous release with the Norton hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 6, 2000). (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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