The Alchemy of Desire

Front Cover
HarperCollins, 2005 - Fiction - 518 pages

Set against the brilliantly drawn backdrop of India at the turn of the millennium, The Alchemy of Desire tells the story of a young couple, penniless but gloriously in love. Obsessed with each other, they move from a small town to the big city, where the man, who dreams of being a writer, works feverishly on a novel, stopping only to feed his ceaseless desire for his beautiful wife.

A chance occurrence allows the lovers to abandon the city for a mist-shrouded spur of the lower Himalayas and move into a sprawling old house, which they hope will embody their love. At first they pursue their deep physical need with a reckless intensity. But during renovations of the house, a set of diaries written by the original inhabitant—a glamorous American adventuress—is unearthed, and the narrator finds himself irresistibly drawn away from his wife and thrust into another world and time, into the hole of history. As his life and love fall apart, he slowly begins to uncover the dark secrets at the heart of her story, until the shocking truth is laid bare and all certainties are overturned.

Inventive, playful, heartbreaking, brimming with ideas and memorable characters, The Alchemy of Desire celebrates the chaotic spirit of a country during a time of great change. It also offers, in searing, lucid prose, a deeply sensual and moving meditation on the nature of desire, history, truth, and art. This is a major novel by one of the most significant new voices of his generation.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - suniru - LibraryThing

There is lots of good material here! I really enjoyed the characters and descriptions and there is great insight on India. I wish the story had been tighter. There are two very separate storylines and ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

Restless spirits disrupt a contemporary marriage in this epic first novel set against the vivid backdrop of India's shift into modernity.Tejpal's fluent, sprawling, ambitious debut intends to span ... Read full review

About the author (2005)

Tarun J TeJpal is the editor of the Indian national weekly Tehelka. In 2001 BusinessWeek named him among the fifty leaders at the forefront of change in Asia. He lives with his family in New Delhi.

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