Synopses & Reviews
is a tale of rapturous love and fierce heartbreak told with tenderness and unsparing clarity. Brother and sister Tanay and Anuja both fall in love with the same man, an artist lodging in their family home in Pune, in western India. He seems like the perfect tenant, ready with the rent and happy to listen to their mothers musings on the imminent collapse of Indian culture. But hes also a man of mystery. He has no last name. He has no family, no friends, no history, and no plans for the future. When he runs away with Anuja, he overturns the familys lives.
Translated from Mahrati by acclaimed novelist and critic Jerry Pinto, Sachin Kundalkars elegantly wrought and exquisitely spare novel, nominated for the prestigious Crossword Book Award and the DSC South Asia Prize, explores the disruption of a traditional family by a free-spirited stranger to examine a generation in transition. Intimate, moving, sensual, and wry in its portrait of young love, Cobalt Blue is a frank and lyrical exploration of gay life in India that recalls the work of Edmund White and Alan Hollinghurst—of people living in emotional isolation, attempting to find long-term intimacy in relationships that until recently were barely conceivable to them.
In modern day India the Joshi family is split along generational lines: parents Aai and Baba value traditions and the home while two of their children Tanay and Anuja seek more from their lives than marriage. Into this volatile mix comes a mysterious alluring tenant who takes over the upstairs room. Both Tanay and Anuja fall in love with the man who remains nameless throughout the novel. A soft spoken artist he has forsaken his last name and refuses to elaborate on his troubled past. The story is narrated first by Tanay and then by his sister Anuja as they recount the events leading up to Anuja’s running away with the man and her eventual return. In these combative siblings Kundalkar has created two powerful singular voices. Tanay is intimate and sensual and his narrative lingers over precise moments turning them over incessantly as he searches for meaning. Anuja’s introspection reflects her more focused personality and reveals her inner nature: rebellious impulsive and self centered. As she gets over her heartache Anuja wonders why her brother is not happier to see her return. Both siblings in their own ways try to reconcile the man they loved with his sudden desertion and their own willingness to unquestioningly follow him. In his debut novel Kundalkar combines two distinct and complementary voices to deliver a complex and intricate story about love family and making one’s own path. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"I found the book’s fragmentary, collage-like structure intriguing and original, as was Jerry Pinto’s translation, and felt that here was a refreshing new voice for a new generation" Anita Desai, three-time Booker Prize nominee and author of Clear Light of Day, In Custody, and Baumgartner’s Bombay
"In the sense of navigating the inner world of an adolescent in the first person, Cobalt Blue may be considered a high-quality 'coming-of-age' novel. It also explores the discovery, resulting confusion, and bravado of homosexuality in a hostile environment....This book could be read in one sitting, over the course of one enjoyable day. However, the impact of its characters and what we learn from them would last quite a while longer." The Hindu
"A mesmerizing novel of heartbreak, memory, and the ease of falling in love set against the impossibility of fully knowing other people." Kamila Shamsie, author of A God in Every Stone
"Cobalt Blue is the kind of book that Franz Kafka called the 'axe for the frozen sea within us'...
this novel, with its complex narrative design and daring imagination, easily surpasses most English-language fiction that has appeared in India so far this year."
"One of the most shocking and brilliantly worded stories of love
[It] will stick with you, and long after you read it, the novel will play on your mind, forcing you to revisit it from time to time." Andre Borges, "34 Books by Indian Authors That Everyone Should Read," Buzzfeed
About the Author
Sachin Kundalkar is a novelist, playwright and filmmaker who won a National Award for Best Screenplay for the film Gandha in 2008.
Jerry Pinto's debut novel, Em and the Big Hoom, won the 2012 Hindu Literary Prize, and his novel Helen won a National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema. They both live in Mumbai.