The Guru of Love
By Samrat Upadhyay
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618247271, 304pp.)
Publication Date: January 2003
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Writing of Samrat Upadhyay’s debut story collection, critics raved: like a Buddhist Chekhov . . . speak[s] to common truths . . . startlingly good” (San Francisco Chronicle) and subtle and spiritually complex” (New York Times). Upadhyay’s first novel showcases his finest writing and his signature themes. The Guru of Love is a moving and important story important for what it illuminates about the human need to love as well as lust, and for the light it shines on the political situation in Nepal and elsewhere.
Ramchandra is a math teacher earning a low wage and living in a small apartment with his wife and two children. Moonlighting as a tutor, he engages in an illicit affair with one of his tutees, Malati, a beautiful, impoverished young woman who is also a new mother. She provides for him what his wife, who comes from a privileged background, does not: desire, mystery, and a simpler life. Complicating matters are various political concerns and a small city bursting with the conflicts of modernization, a static government, and a changing population. Just as the city must contain its growing needs, so must Ramchandra learn to accommodate both tradition and his very modern desires.
Absolutely absorbing yet deceptively simple, this novel cements Upadhyay’s emerging status as one of our most exciting new writers.
SAMRAT UPADHYAY is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, which earned him a Whiting Award, and The Guru of Love, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize, and a Book Sense 76 pick. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and teaches creative writing and literature at Indiana University.