The City of Devi: A Novel

The City of Devi: A Novel

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by Manil Suri
     
 

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A dazzling, multilayered novel that not only encompasses a searing love story but, with its epic reach, encapsulates the fate of the world.
Mumbai has emptied under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation; gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim thugs rove the desolate streets; yet Sarita can think of only one thing: buying the last pomegranate that remains in…  See more details below

Overview

A dazzling, multilayered novel that not only encompasses a searing love story but, with its epic reach, encapsulates the fate of the world.
Mumbai has emptied under the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation; gangs of marauding Hindu and Muslim thugs rove the desolate streets; yet Sarita can think of only one thing: buying the last pomegranate that remains in perhaps the entire city. She is convinced that the fruit holds the key to reuniting her with her physicist husband, Karun, who has been mysteriously missing for more than a fortnight.
Searching for his own lover in the midst of this turmoil is Jaz—cocky, handsome, and glib. "The Jazter," as he calls himself, is Muslim, but his true religion has steadfastly been sex with men. Dodging danger at every step, both he and Sarita are inexorably drawn to Devi ma, the patron goddess who has reputedly appeared in person to save her city. What they find will alter their lives more fundamentally than any apocalypse to come.A wickedly comedic and fearlessly provocative portrayal of individuals balancing on the sharp edge of fate, The City of Devi brilliantly upends assumptions of politics, religion, and sex, and offers a terrifying yet exuberant glimpse of the end of the world.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Ron Charles
Manil Suri has written what's sure to be the best sex comedy of the year about nuclear war between India and Pakistan. But [Suri] is used to having categories all to himself. After all, his spectacular debut, The Death of Vishnu (2001), is the best novel ever about a man dying in a stairwell…Even amid the wondrous variety of contemporary Indian fiction, Suri's work stands apart, mingling comedy and death, eroticism and politics, godhood and Bollywood like no one else…The City of Devi never dips toward cynicism, never loses its essential sweetness, no matter how cruel or kooky the action…Only a careful writer could choreograph these cliches—cliffhanger escapes and just-deflected bullets—without sinking into parody or bathos.
Publishers Weekly
This novel from Suri (The Death of Vishnu) shows India and, peripherally, the rest of the world, teetering on the edge of disaster. His plot draws out, through slight exaggerations and extrapolations, dangerous trends overtaking modern society: the world going down in a mess of disruptive hackings, nuclear threats, and religious strife. But the novel is driven by love and hope; Sarita, recently married, is desperate to find her husband, Karun, before the promised nuclear holocaust some days hence. She sets out from Mumbai toward the suburb where he went before the worst of the violence began. On her way she encounters militant Hindu and Muslim groups, a fantastical cult that worships a would-be deity name Devi, and a Muslim man named Jaz whose attentions she can’t seem to shake. He joins her quest for reasons of his own, and each recalls along the way the intertwined pasts that have brought them together and set them on this journey. Suri’s dynamic, unabashed voice leaves one for the most part happily, perpetually off-balance and, though the tone is too unbound at times—especially toward the rather crazed ending—the vibrancy and compelling plot carry through the occasional sag or inconsistency. Agent: Nicole Aragi, the Nicole Aragi Agency. (Feb.)
Washington Post
“The best sex comedy of the year about nuclear war between India and Pakistan...Even amid the wondrous variety of contemporary Indian fiction, Suri’s work stands apart, mingling comedy and death, eroticism and politics, godhood and Bollywood like no one else.”— Ron Charles
Ron Charles - Washington Post
“Even amid the wondrous variety of contemporary Indian fiction, Suri’s work stands apart, mingling comedy and death, eroticism and politics, godhood and Bollywood like no one else.”
Kiran Desai
“The City of Devi combines, in a magician's feat, the thrill of Bollywood with the pull of a thriller. Set in a city at the brink of the end, this is a fiercely imagined story of three souls haunted by a love that will change their most elemental ideas of identity. Manil Suri's bravest and most passionate book.”
Gary Shteyngart
“The City of Devi is so exuberant and sexy, one may wish to purchase a prophylactic alongside it. When the world comes to an end, I will spend my last days in Mumbai clutching a copy of Manil Suri's dazzling epic.”
Washington Post - Ron Charles
“The best sex comedy of the year about nuclear war between India and Pakistan...Even amid the wondrous variety of contemporary Indian fiction, Suri’s work stands apart, mingling comedy and death, eroticism and politics, godhood and Bollywood like no one else.”
Rupinder Gill - O Magazine
“With comedic flashes and a plot that pulses forward, Suri’s tale solidifies the reputation he earned as a master storyteller with The Death of Vishnu and The Age of Shiva. Layered with themes that draw on Hindu mythology, this new work is equal parts near-apocalyptic drama and heartfelt Bollywood-esque love story.”
Bharti Kirchner - Seattle Times
“Suri’s prose is reason enough to pick up the book, but what ultimately makes the reader turn the pages is the intertwined destinies of the three characters. In the end, love is all that matters, Suri seems to be saying.”
Library Journal
A threat of imminent nuclear attack from Pakistan has the citizens of Mumbai in a panic in this manic novel, the third in a trilogy (The Death of Vishnu, 2001; The Age of Shiva, 2009). (LJ 2/1/13)
Kirkus Reviews
Part international thriller, part romantic soap opera and less satisfying than the author's previous works. The third novel from the India-born, Maryland-based professor of mathematics (The Age of Shiva, 2008, etc.) deals with all sorts of schisms: between Hindus and Muslims, India and Pakistan, spiritual and secular. But the main battle here is sexual, a romantic triangle to which one party is oblivious throughout most of the novel, climaxing in purple prose that American readers might associate with a bodice ripper but in the land of the burqa. "Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy," gushes Sarita, one of the novel's co-narrators, the bride whose explosive consummation apparently makes the delay worth the frustration, despite the complication apparently necessary to arouse her husband's ardor. "The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands--only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei." In other words, an apparently successful reunion with her physicist husband, who disappeared mysteriously on the eve of a rumored atomic attack by Pakistan on India, sparking genocidal violence between the Hindu and Muslim populations of the author's native Mumbai. As she announces early on, "the sole imperative in my mind was to find Karun, or risk everything trying." Most of the novel details that increasingly dangerous quest, through a narrative interspersed with various flashbacks to the courtship of Sarita, a statistician past 30 when she meets her future husband, the sexually ambivalent Karun. Early on, she acquires a companion and accomplice, and the novel a co-narrator: a handsome cosmopolitan of Muslim origin who shares her goal--"Karun, whom I must find, whom I need to dazzle, whose rectitude I hope to penetrate"--though the passion of the "the Jazter" (as he calls himself) for her husband remains secret from Sarita. The melodrama of romantic intrigue is this novel's driving force.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393088755
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/04/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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Kiran Desai
The City of Devi combines, in a magician's feat, the thrill of Bollywood with the pull of a thriller. Set in a city at the brink of the end, this is a fiercely imagined story of three souls haunted by a love that will change their most elemental ideas of identity. Manil Suri's bravest and most passionate book.

Meet the Author

Manil Suri is the best-selling author of The Death of Vishnu, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and The Age of Shiva. A native of Mumbai, he is a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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The City of Devi: A Novel 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Moksha More than 1 year ago
An original premise and intriguing adventure. This well realized tale holds the reader's attention throughout the misadventures of it's characters. The characters themselves, unfortunately, are not written in such a way as to compel much compassion for them. Their experiences, though, are fully believable and you do root for their success in overcoming the many horrifying obstacles in their path. Mumbai is totally recognizable and descriptions of it's chaos and impending destruction are vivid. A good read for those who like dystopian lit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was chuffed to find a signed copy of Manil Suri's book at the Jaipur Literary Festival. Chuffed because his first was actually good, his second was not so good but I trusted him to get his groove back with the last of his triumvirate. I am surprised by the raving jacket cover endorsements. This is a boring book. There is no character development. The story has no coherence. It is a bad book. Very bad book. When I begin to look at how many pages I have left to finish a book ( not in a good way) while into ten pages of a book, is bad.  Manil Suri, you need to re-visit your days of "vishu" - this is the last book from you that I spend money on.