cover image A SIN OF COLOR


Sunetra Gupta, . . Sourcebooks, $15 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-57071-857-1

In a novel of rare beauty, Gupta (Memories of Rain) tells a mesmerizing tale of obsession, mystery and unrequited love spanning three generations. In 1975, Debendranath Roy, hopelessly in love with Reba, his brother's wife, vanishes and is presumed dead. He leaves behind family in India, friends in England and his devoted albeit neglected wife, all of whom are mystified by his disappearance. Most curious is his niece Niharika, Reba's daughter, who grows from a playful, imaginative girl into a reserved, intellectual woman. She's never forgotten her missing uncle, and researching his life becomes an obsession. The story is revealed through flashbacks that mesh seamlessly with the narrative, and though it is often clear what will happen next, the fascination lies in finding out just how it happens. Gupta expounds on the mysteries of the human heart, the vagaries of romantic love and the mistakes we continue to make regardless of attempts at self-control. These universal themes, couched in Gupta's elegant prose, allow the novel (nominated for the Orange Prize in Britain) to transcend time and place. Gupta will inevitably be compared to other young Indian writers (like Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni), but her language is more akin to the classic stylings of Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Bowen. The reader will relish Gupta's unconventionally long and elegant sentences; her prose rolls off the tongue and forms haunting pictures that linger. (Oct.)