From the author of The Death of Vishnu, "a big, pyrotechnic…ambitious…ingenious" (Wall Street Journal) novel.
Mumbai has emptied under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation; gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim thugs rove the desolate streets; yet Sarita can think of only one thing: buying the last pomegranate that remains in perhaps the entire city. She is convinced that the fruit holds the key to reuniting her with her physicist husband, Karun, who has been mysteriously missing for more than a fortnight.
Searching for his own lover in the midst of this turmoil is Jaz—cocky, handsome, and glib. "The Jazter," as he calls himself, is Muslim, but his true religion has steadfastly been sex with men. Dodging danger at every step, both he and Sarita are inexorably drawn to Devi ma, the patron goddess who has reputedly appeared in person to save her city. What they find will alter their lives more fundamentally than any apocalypse to come.
A wickedly comedic and fearlessly provocative portrayal of individuals balancing on the sharp edge of fate, The City of Devi brilliantly upends assumptions of politics, religion, and sex, and offers a terrifying yet exuberant glimpse of the end of the world.
This novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) shows India and, peripherally, the rest of the world, teetering on the edge of disaster. His plot draws out, through slight exaggerations and extrapolations, dangerous trends overtaking modern society: the world going down in a mess of disruptive hackings, nuclear threats, and religious strife. But the novel is driven by love and hope; Sarita, recently married, is desperate to find her husband, Karun, before the promised nuclear holocaust some days hence. She sets out from Mumbai toward the suburb where he went before the worst of the violence began. On her way she encounters militant Hindu and Muslim groups, a fantastical cult that worships a would-be deity name Devi, and a Muslim man named Jaz whose attentions she can't seem to shake. He joins her quest for reasons of his own, and each recalls along the way the intertwined pasts that have brought them together and set them on this journey. Suri's dynamic, unabashed voice leaves one for the most part happily, perpetually off-balance and, though the tone is too unbound at times especially toward the rather crazed ending the vibrancy and compelling plot carry through the occasional sag or inconsistency.
I heard about this book one morning on NPR and I downloaded it that afternoon. I couldn't put the book down and now I'm disappointed that my journey with Surita and Jaz is over.
A masterfully told tale of the meaning of love and lust and the complexities of the blurred lines of sexuality. Suri weaves the stories of dual protagonists in the wake of an apocalyptic backdrop of racism, carnage, and sheer chaos. Brilliant.