Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, a novel about violence, love, and religion in modern India
On a train bound for the seaside town of Jarmuli, known for its temples, three elderly women meet a young documentary filmmaker named Nomi, whose braided hair, tattoos, and foreign air set her apart. At a brief stop en route, the women witness a sudden assault on Nomi that leaves her stranded as the train pulls away.
Later in Jarmuli, among pilgrims, priests, and ashrams, the women disembark only to find that Nomi has managed to arrive on her own. What is someone like her, clearly not a worshipper, doing in this remote place? Over the next five days, the women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide pursues a forbidden love; and Nomi is joined by a photographer to scout locations for a documentary. As their lives overlap and collide, Nomi's past comes into focus, and the serene surface of the town is punctured by violence and abuse as Jarmuli is revealed as a place with a long, dark history that transforms all who encounter it. A haunting, vibrant novel that was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and short-listed for the Hindu Literary Prize, Anuradha Roy's Sleeping on Jupiter is a brilliantly told story of contemporary India from an internationally acclaimed writer.
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 Sweden 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.