"A formidable mix of the personal and the political . . . The Way Things Were is a substantive contribution to new writing from the subcontinent." Independent
When Skanda's father Toby dies, estranged from Skanda's mother and from the India he once loved, it falls to Skanda to return his body to his birthplace. This is a journey that takes him halfway around the world and deep within three generations of his family, whose fractures, frailties and toxic legacies he has always sought to elude.
Both an intimate portrait of a marriage and its aftershocks, and a panoramic vision of India's half-century - in which a rapacious new energy supplants an ineffectual elite - The Way Things Were is an epic novel about the pressures of history upon the present moment. It is also a meditation on the stories we tell and the stories we forget; their tenderness and violence in forging bonds and in breaking them apart.
Set in modern Delhi and at flashpoints from the past four decades, fusing private and political, classical and contemporary to thrilling effect, this book confirms Aatish Taseer as one of the most arresting voices of his generation.
PRAISE FOR AATISH TASEER
"Intensely engrossing . . . a novel of ideas in the guise of a very human story." Financial Times
"The Ways Things Were shows [Taseer] to be both an accomplished novelist and commentator. In delving beneath the surface, he has vividly exposed the quarrels and quandaries of an India undergoing rapid historical and social change." Spectator
Taseer's (Noon) sprawling epic about two generations of a privileged Indian family will leave readers intoxicated. Toby, a maharaja, has immersed himself in the study of Sanskrit; this intellectualism is, for a time, exciting to his wife, Uma, but it's soon revealed to be a way of distancing himself from Indian life. The story begins with Toby's death and his son Skanda's return to India from Manhattan to carry out the funeral rites, and it moves back and forth over a 30-year period, mirroring the unrest of the country from the state of emergency declared by Indira Gandhi to the present. Skanda is forced to confront the fact that he has inherited his father's detachment and must try to make sense of his own broken childhood. He resolves to move forward without repeating his father's mistakes and makes peace with his history. Authors often attempt to frame a given period of a country's history through a single family's story, but Taseer's book is a cut above the rest. Colonialism, racism, sectarian violence, class tension, and the rise of the Indian nouveau riche are all handled with a delicate touch. This is a difficult book to put down, and readers will enjoy every minute of it, as well as learning about contemporary Indian culture.