No Other World (Hardcover)
Harper, 9780062020468, 304pp.
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
From the author of the prize-winning collection Quarantine, an insightful, compelling debut novel set in rural America and India in the 1980s and ’90s, part coming-of-age story about a gay Indian American boy, part family saga about an immigrant family’s struggles to find a sense of belonging, identity, and hope.
In a rural community in Western New York, twelve-year-old Kiran Shah, the American-born son of Indian immigrants, longingly observes his prototypically American neighbors, the Bells. He attends school with Kelly Bell, but he’s powerfully drawn—in a way he does not yet understand—to her charismatic father, Chris.
Kiran’s yearnings echo his parents’ bewilderment as they try to adjust to a new world. His father, Nishit Shah, a successful doctor, is haunted by thoughts of the brother he left behind. His mother, Shanti, struggles to accept a life with a man she did not choose—her marriage to Nishit was arranged—and her growing attachment to an American man. Kiran is close to his older sister, Preeti—until an unexpected threat and an unfathomable betrayal drive a wedge between them that will reverberate through their lives.
As he leaves childhood behind, Kiran finds himself perpetually on the outside—as an Indian American torn between two cultures and as a gay man in a homophobic society. In the wake of an emotional breakdown, he travels to India, where he forms an intense bond with a teenage hijra, a member of India’s ancient transgender community. With her help, Kiran begins to pull together the pieces of his broken past.
Sweeping and emotionally complex, No Other World is a haunting meditation on love, belonging, and forgiveness that explores the line between our responsibilities to our families and to ourselves, the difficult choices we make, and the painful cost of claiming our true selves.
About the Author
Rahul Mehta’s debut short story collection, Quarantine, won a Lambda Literary Award and the Asian American Literary Award for Fiction. His work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Sun, New Stories from the South, the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Marie Claire India, and other publications. An Out magazine “Out 100” honoree, he lives in Philadelphia with his partner and their dog, and teaches creative writing at the University of the Arts.
Praise For No Other World: A Novel…
— Shelf Awareness
“No Other World is deeply satisfying, a novel so moving that I worried about its main characters for weeks after I finished reading it. Rahul Mehta is a writer with astonishing emotional subtlety and generosity; I loved this beautiful book.”
— Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies
“What a compelling, magical, big-hearted, lyrical book. Rahul Mehta is an expansive and mesmerizing talent—he sees things generously, from all angles, and makes the reader care, and feel, deeply.”
— George Saunders, author of Tenth of December
“No Other World is a tough and touching master class on being. Kiran’s life is a remarkable catalogue of the many brands of love, some painful, some nourishing, all of them necessary.”
— Brian Leung, author of Take Me Home
“No Other World is a profound and engrossing family saga about the immigrant experience. Mehta is a confident, empathic storyteller, his rendering of brutal scenes of pain, lust and love on two continents is fearless but forgiving, and this is just his début novel. I impatiently await his next.”
— Bharati Mukherjee, author of Jasmine
“Mehta uses vivid, memorable imagery to present likable, complex characters…and shimmering descriptions of emotionally resonant moments.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“The power of No Other World is how inextricably bound to this world Mehta’s characters are, and yet how untethered and restless they inevitably feel…I want to catch all of Mehta’s precious metaphors and store them in my palms… Mehta’s artfulness is the deep empathy with which we nevertheless regard his characters, forced to live in small worlds they’re not fit for, worlds that cannot contain their complexities.”
— Lambda Book Report