The Lovers: A Novel

by Amitava Kumar

Category: Fiction

‘There is a buoyant energy and hilarity to this account of an Indian student seeking the wide world through the women he meets, but one laughs with growing unease as a darker undercurrent is slowly revealed.’ —Kiran Desai
The Lovers is about a man in search of a love story. This man, our narrator, is Kailash—a new immigrant, eager to shine. His friends teasingly call him Kalashnikov, and sometimes AK-47, even AK. In his account of his years at a university in New York, AK takes us through the bittersweet arc of youth and love. There is discovery and disappointment. There are the brilliant women, Jennifer and Nina and Cai Yan. There is the political texture of campus life and the charismatic professor overseeing these young men and women, Ehsaan Ali (modelled on the real-life Eqbal Ahmad). Manifest in AK’s first years and first loves is the wild enthusiasm of youth, its idealism, chaotic desires and confusions.
A decidedly modern novel that melds story and reportage, anecdote and annotation, picture and text, fragment and essay, The Lovers reminds us of the works of John Berger and Teju Cole. Funny, meditative, and shot through with waves of longing, the book explores feelings of discomfort about cultural misunderstandings and the lack of clarity between men and women. At heart though, it is an investigation of love—‘love despite, or in spite of; love beyond and across dividing lines’.

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