Helium

Jaspreet Singh. Bloomsbury, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60819-956-3
Singh’s (Chef) second novel follows Dr. Raj Kumar back to India, 25 years after he left for graduate school in the United States, to find the widow of his favorite professor and confront the horrors of his past. In 1984, Raj stood by, helpless, as rioters set his Sikh mentor on fire during the pogroms that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination. But afterward, he can’t bring himself to visit Dr. Kaur’s widow, Nelly, with whom Raj had been conducting an affair. Now, a quarter of a century later, his marriage in shambles and his career on a precipice, Raj tracks down Nelly in the mountain city of Shimla and finds her aged by time and grief. He tries to regain her trust and learn her story, while investigating on his own in an attempt to make amends. In the process, he uncovers damning evidence that only binds him more tightly to his past, and Raj must decide how to proceed without causing irreparable damage to Nelly—or himself. An indictment of the terrible events of November, 1984, the book teases out the complicated intersection of family, love, politics, and hate, and how one man confronts the responsibility and guilt of one of the worst times in his nation’s history. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2013
Release date: 08/06/2013
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-1-62040-639-7
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