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Leela's Book

A Novel

Alice Albinia (Author)

 

"Steeped in the tradition of the Indian epic, yet modern and vastly entertaining." —The Times (London)

In her fiction debut, Alice Albinia weaves a multithreaded epic tale that encompasses divine saga and familial discord and introduces an unforgettable heroine. Leela—alluring, taciturn, haunted—is moving from New York back to Delhi. Worldly and accomplished, she has been in self-imposed exile from India and her family for decades; twenty-two years earlier, her sister was seduced by the egotistical Vyasa, and the fallout from their relationship drove Leela away. Now an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Vyasa is preparing for his son’s marriage. But when Leela arrives for the wedding, she disrupts the careful choreography of the weekend, with its myriad attendees and their conflicting desires.

Gleefully presiding over the drama is Ganesh—divine, elephant-headed scribe of the Mahabharata, India’s great epic. The family may think they have arranged the wedding for their own selfish ends, but according to Ganesh it is he who is directing events—in a bid to save Leela, his beloved heroine, from Vyasa. As the weekend progresses, secret online personas, maternal identities, and poetic authorships are all revealed; boundaries both religious and continental are crossed; and families are ripped apart and brought back together in this vibrant and brilliant celebration of family, love, and storytelling.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34393-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 448 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide, excluding Canada, the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Imagine all the drama, sexual intrigue, and familial discord of the ancient Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, retold in modern times with a satirical twist…a compelling and wildly entertaining tale unfolds.” — Lizzie Crocker, The Daily Beast

“A bold and delightful novel, executed with energy and flair...Albinia has pulled off the remarkable trick of melding a story about modern family ties with a timeless tale about gods and avatars. Leela's Book is as much a meditation on tensions between brothers and sisters, or between parents and their children, as it is a rumination on the nature of storytelling...The result is magnificent.” — Financial Times

Leela's Book is a stimulating novel in which Albinia skilfully manages an intricate plot and an enormous, diverse cast of characters. Her immense historical acumen and sophisticated sense of culture have enabled her to craft a powerful tale.” — The Guardian

“Bold, playful, smart and lively.” — Time Out

“Albinia handles the complex plot and many diverse characters she has created with skill and humor while at the same time offering an insightful look at the sociopolitical complexity of present-day India. A remarkable debut novel.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“A compelling tale that weaves together the profound and the playful, the modern and the traditional, the secular and the mythological—all the strands that make up today's India.” — Manil Suri, author of The City of Devi

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