A novel of India from one of England's finest writers
'For some time now, I have been plagued, perhaps blessed, by dreams of rivers and seas, dreams of water.'
Just days after Albert James writes these lines to his son John, in London, he is dead. Abandoning a pretty girlfriend and the lab where he is completing his PhD, John flies to Delhi to join his mother in mourning.
A brilliant and controversial anthropologist, the nature of Albert James's research, and the circumstances of his death, are far from clear. On top of this, John must confront his mother's coolness, and the strangeness of the cremation ceremony that she has organised for his father. No sooner is the body consigned to the flames than a journalist arrives, determined to write a biography of the dead man. The widow will have nothing to do with the project, yet seems incapable of keeping away from the journalist.
In Tim Parks's masterly new novel, India, with its vast strangeness, the density and intensity of its street life, its indifference to all distinctions between the religious and the secular, is a constant source of distraction to these westerners in search of clarity and identity. To John, the enigma of his father's dreams of rivers and seas appears to be one with the greater mystery of the country.
“The originality, power and sheer prolificacy of Parks's production makes the work of his British contemporaries appear trite... His prose can be sparse and lucid, or almost manically convoluted, although beyond the fierce and questioning intelligence are both humour and artfully constructed and invariably gripping plots... In other words it's a big, easily readable book - though with a solidly intellectual core - more than ripe for big prizes”
Independent on Sunday
“A haunting and accomplished novel ... Dreams of Rivers and Seas is a book that has already repaid a second reading; I am sorry not to see it on the Booker longlist”
“A brave book...he shows with this novel, he intimately understands the Western condition, its complexity and fragility”
Nirpal Dhaliwal, Evening Standard
“Gripping and ambiguous... India provides the gritty, realistic backdrop, a lightning conductor for intelligent Westerners to play out the manufactured anguishes of their fissile lives”
“In the tradition of British writing about India, this novel is a rich, unexpected variation, and a considerable addition”
Amit Chaudhuri, Financial Times
“With his constant switching of viewpoint, tense and emphasis, Parks, an extremely skilful storyteller, makes sure the novel's intensity never falters”
“An engaging story”
Times Literary Supplement
“This is a brilliant evocation of the teeming back streets and bazaars of Delhi and the gulf between Indian life and western logic”
“This probably won't get within a bull's roar of the Booker shortlist. It should.The complexities of Dreams of Rivers and Seas are not the product of contrivance, but simply those of experience”
“A love story (or rather several love stories), an oblique and engrossing mystery, but above all a story about language and its limitations”
“Ambitious and compelling”
“In his latest novel, Parks demonstrates a seemingly effortless mastery of biochemistry...a fast paced thriller with sex and relationships at its heart”
Jane Housham, The Guardian Saturday Review
“Entirely convincing. He is a highly skilful writer and this is an absorbing story”
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
“Parks competently handles the themes of secrecy and communication”
Heather McRobie, Telegraph