a city on the edge
city of devi
City of Devi by Manil Suri; Published by WW Norton; Available in Hardcover (2013)
The third in Manil Suri’s trilogy, City of Devi continues Suri’s fictional exploration of the character of his birth city, Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Set in an unspecified near future convulsed by wars and terrorist actions, Mumbai is under a death sentence: India’s enemy Pakistan has issued an ultimatum, giving citizens of Mumbai only a few days to evacuate before they launch a nuclear missile.
Through this disintegrating world we follow two narrators: Sarita is a shy statistician who has set off on a personal journey to find her missing husband Karun. Sarita is stalked, aided and sometimes crossed by Jazter, a flamboyant young gay man who is Karun’s former lover. Unable to forget him, Jazter shadows and ultimately saves Sarita in hopes she will lead him to recover his lost love. Both narrators interweave memories of their respective romances with the now absent Karun into a post-apocalyptic techno-thriller odyssey through a lovingly rendered, if increasingly violent, Mumbai. There are many fun bits in the book, but the total is not more than the sum of its parts: the gentle romance sits uncomfortably beside the techno-thriller, the tone of which seems forced alongside the shocking sectarian violence Suri imagines being released by the collapse of contemporary Indian culture.
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