Undertow - Jahnavi Barua

Undertow

Jahnavi Barua

Penguin Random House

It is Assam of the 1980’s, as deep political unrest simmers in the background the intertwined lives of a household will change forever.

Loya is twenty-five: solitary, sincere, with restless stirrings in her heart. In an uncharacteristic move, she sets off on an unexpected journey, away from her mother, Rukmini, and her home in Bengaluru, to distant, misty Assam. She comes looking for her beloved Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, but also seeks someone else-her grandfather, Torun Ram Goswami, someone she has never met before. She arrives at the Yellow House on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where Torun lives, not knowing that her life is about to change. Twenty-five years ago, Rukmini had been cast out of the family home by her mother, the formidable and charismatic Usha, while Torun watched silently. Loya now seeks answers, both from him and from the place that her mother once called home. In her quest, she finds an understanding not only of herself and her life but also of the precarious bonds that tie people together.

 A delicate, poignant portrait of family and all that it contains, Undertow is an exploration of much more: home and the outside world, the insider and the outsider, and the ever-evolving nature of love itself.

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About the author

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Jahnavi Barua

Jahnavi Barua is an Indian writer based in Bangalore. Next Door (Penguin India, 2008), her debut collection of short stories was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her next, a novel called Rebirth (Penguin India, 2010), was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. The third, Undertow, a novel, was published by Penguin Random House India (Viking Books) in February 2020. Her short fiction has been widely anthologized and her work is part of several university syllabi. Jahnavi studied medicine at university but is not a practicing doctor. She was born in Guwahati and raised between Assam, Meghalaya, Delhi and Manchester.