cover image The Earthspinner

The Earthspinner

Anuradha Roy. HarperVia, $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-322068-3

The art of pottery looms large in Roy’s latest, a novel of small tragedies (after All the Lives We Never Lived). Narrator Sara, a lonely Indian student on scholarship at a damp English university, seeks solace in a pottery studio in the basement of a local church. It is clear early on, however, that the story belongs to Sara’s teacher, Elango, a gifted Hindu potter. Years earlier in India, when Sara was a child there, Elango begins work on a beautiful terra-cotta horse after a vivid dream, and in the meantime has fallen in love with Zohra, the Muslim granddaughter of a blind calligrapher. But Elango’s finished work of art, which has been decorated with Urdu poetry written by Zohra’s grandfather, causes an explosion of violent religious animosity, and Elango and Zohra are forced to flee to Delhi together, leaving behind a beloved dog named Chinna with Sara’s family, thus binding the characters to one another. Roy delivers profound insights on the power of art (“Work with whatever earth you get,” Elango tells Sara. “A potter knows how to do that”), the hideous nature of religious intolerance, and perhaps most sadly, the consequences of pursuing a dream. This is Roy’s best to date. (July)