cover image So Good in Black

So Good in Black

Sunetra Gupta. Interlink/Clockroot, $18 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-1-56656-853-1

American travel writer Max Gate returns to the lavish Bengal seaside house of his old friend Byron Mallick on the eve of a funeral, in Gupta's languid rumination on love and opportunities lost, her first novel since A Sin of Color. Max arrives after the death of Damini Kanjilal, an outspoken journalist and founder of a women's shelter with whom he once worked closely before they had a falling out. Before Damini's death, she suspected Byron of supplying one of her shelters with tainted baby formula, and the accusation makes Damini's bike accident death even more suspicious. But Gupta%E2%80%94shifting fluidly from the present to various events in Max's past%E2%80%94is more interested with Max's longstanding and mostly unrequited love for Damini's cousin, Ela, who is also Byron's goddaughter: Ela, a successful dancer, is married with a child, and Max has remained alone since his marriage disintegrated years ago. As he and Byron reminisce about old times and attempt to reconcile the older man's part in the formula crisis, Max evaluates his life and the choices he's made. Gupta's nonlinear plot is as twisted as the relationships between her characters, and while the pacing sometimes drags, the landscapes dazzle. (July)