AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING: Adventurous Readers book group
We intrepid readers of the Year of Adventurous Reading book group are about to move on to our March title: An Atlas of Impossible Longing, the rapturously received debut novel by Anuradha Roy.
This time, we are in Songarh, a small provincial town in India, where two abandoned children grow up together, begin to fall in love and are then brutally forced apart. A great epic of love, class and ambition, An Atlas of Impossible Longing was described by the Washington Post as a novel that reminds you "why you read fiction at all".
A gorgeous, richly ambitious novel; universal in scope and exquisite in detail.
Once you have read An Atlas of Impossible Longing, why not have a go at musing over the below discussion points with your reading group - or join our online discussion by posting in the comments below.
1) The pull of forbidden love is strong for many of the characters. Which characters resist this pull, and which seem to welcome it?
2) What knowledge of India’s caste system did you bring to the novel, and what do you think you’ve learned about it from it?
3) Which marriage in the novel do you think works the best and why?
4) Discuss the theme of “man versus nature” as it appears in the novel.
5) How does Mukunda’s unknown caste affect him during the novel? Does he derive any advantages from it?
6) Which of the novel’s characters did you find most resonant and memorable?
7) How visible and present did you find the fact of British rule of India in the story?
8) Has the novel made you more aware of the history of the partition of India?
9) Discuss the ways in which the society depicted in the novel treats men and women differently.
10) Were you sympathetic towards the affection between Bakul and Makunda, or do you think such love is forbidden for a good reason?
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING
Loved An Atlas of Impossible Longing but don't know what to read now? We're here to help! Below are some suggested titles that you might want to try next.
The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy
An evocative and deeply moving tale of a young woman making a new life for herself in the foothills of the Himalaya. Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village. But all is not as it seems . . . Anuradha’s second novel is a many-layered, powerful narrative, peopled with wonderfully eccentric characters.
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy
Anuradha tackles religious hypocrisy and the treatment of women in India in this poignant and timely novel. The characters in her interlocking stories are vividly drawn, and her prose is painterly, precise and always original. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 and winner of the D.S.C. Prize for South Asian Literature.
The Children by Carolina Sanin (translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor)
Like An Atlas of Impossible Longing, this short, mysterious and imaginative novel is about a foundling boy. He enters Laura’s life, seemingly without a past, and she endeavours to provide him with a future. A book that explores the limits of isolation and compassion filtered through the lives of two lonely people. By one of Colombia’s rising stars.
Child Wonder by Roy Jacobsen (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)
Finn lives with his mother in an apartment block in a working-class suburb of Oslo. It is 1961, the year the Berlin Wall is erected and Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to travel into space. One day a mysterious half-sister appears, and she turns his life upside-down. By the author of The Unseen (shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017), Child Wonder is a powerful and unsentimental portrait of childhood, a coming-of-age novel full of light and warmth.
Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (translated from the French by Jordan Stump)
Clarisse Rivière's life is shaped by a refusal to admit to her husband Richard and to her daughter Ladivine that her mother is a poor black housekeeper. Weighed down by guilt, she pretends to be an orphan, visiting her mother in secret and telling no-one of her real identity as Malinka, daughter of Ladivine Sylla. Ladivine is a beguiling story of secrets, lies, guilt and forgiveness by one of Europe's boldest and most unique literary voices.