cover image Sleeping on Jupiter

Sleeping on Jupiter

Anuradha Roy. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-55597-751-1

Travelling to India, to a fictional Vishnu temple in a beachside town, Nomi is returning to the land of her birth as well as to the place that haunts her memory. Having lost her family during an unspecified war, Nomi, at age seven, was brought to an ashram, kept captive, and sexually abused by the guru. She escaped at 12, entered an orphanage, was adopted, and taken to Europe. Now living in Norway and in her mid-20s, Nomi comes back to India to work on a documentary film; Roy’s novel sets the stage for her research, as she wanders the beach where she may have last seen her mother and the crumbling bricks and broken glass of what was the ashram compound. The cast of characters includes an earnest temple guide, three older women on pilgrimage, and Nomi’s local production assistant, Suraj, who’s going through a divorce. Many of the flashbacks, though they’re essential for depth and clarity, feel forced, as Roy (The Folded Earth) tries to stitch together the child’s trauma with the adult’s insight. At the same time, however, the overlapping stories make for a rich and absorbing consideration of where the past ends and the present begins. (Sept.)