cover image The City of Devi

The City of Devi

Manil Suri. Norton, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-08875-5

This novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) shows India and, peripherally, the rest of the world, teetering on the edge of disaster. His plot draws out, through slight exaggerations and extrapolations, dangerous trends overtaking modern society: the world going down in a mess of disruptive hackings, nuclear threats, and religious strife. But the novel is driven by love and hope; Sarita, recently married, is desperate to find her husband, Karun, before the promised nuclear holocaust some days hence. She sets out from Mumbai toward the suburb where he went before the worst of the violence began. On her way she encounters militant Hindu and Muslim groups, a fantastical cult that worships a would-be deity name Devi, and a Muslim man named Jaz whose attentions she can’t seem to shake. He joins her quest for reasons of his own, and each recalls along the way the intertwined pasts that have brought them together and set them on this journey. Suri’s dynamic, unabashed voice leaves one for the most part happily, perpetually off-balance and, though the tone is too unbound at times—especially toward the rather crazed ending—the vibrancy and compelling plot carry through the occasional sag or inconsistency. Agent: Nicole Aragi, the Nicole Aragi Agency. (Feb.)