cover image Age of Vice

Age of Vice

Deepti Kapoor. Riverhead, $30 (544p) ISBN 978-0-593-32879-8

In Kapoor’s searing portrait of India at the turn of the 21st century (after Bad Character), finely wrought characters go to great lengths to escape the bonds into which they were born. Ajay, from a desperately poor family and sold into servitude by his mother at eight in 1991, begins working for Sunny Wadia, an unhappy playboy and scion of a powerful family, in 2001. Sunny’s father, Bunty, and mysterious uncle Vicky hold sway over whole swaths of the Indian economy and political landscape. Neda Kapur is a cynical journalist first drawn to Sunny by a corruption story she is writing, but is soon caught in the vortex of Sunny’s lavish lifestyle of endless parties, drugs, and conspicuous consumption facilitated by the ever-present Ajay. Sunny dreams of creating new cities and carving a new path for himself, but he is emasculated by his father’s hold on the family’s empire. As Sunny and his friends’ behavior becomes increasingly reckless, Ajay is made a scapegoat for a shocking fatal car accident, and Neda witnesses in full the ethical morass upon which the Wadias’ success is built. Kapoor’s violent and bitter story is deeply addictive; this spellbinder would be easy to devour in one big gulp, but it’s worth savoring for Neda’s uncompromising take on what she terms India’s “losing age, the age of vice.” The author possesses a talent great enough to match the massive scope of her subject. (Jan.)