The Folded Earth

The Folded Earth

4.0 2
by Anuradha Roy, Sneha Mathan
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

For Maya, a young widow trying to escape her complicated past, teaching school in a secluded mountain village offers a promise of peace. Here she feels close to the calm heart of the land, where lush foothills meet clear skies. In the evenings she teaches a peasant girl, Charu, to write so she can correspond with her lover in secret. As Maya finds out, however, no

Overview

For Maya, a young widow trying to escape her complicated past, teaching school in a secluded mountain village offers a promise of peace. Here she feels close to the calm heart of the land, where lush foothills meet clear skies. In the evenings she teaches a peasant girl, Charu, to write so she can correspond with her lover in secret. As Maya finds out, however, no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world, or her own past. The community she has grown to love comes under attack when powerful outsiders hijack the local elections, dividing the villagers and threatening Charu's family. And when Maya's landlord's charming nephew sets up shop nearby, Maya is drawn to him despite her better instincts-and soon finds herself questioning everything she has ever known.
 

Editorial Reviews

Andrea Thompson
…quietly mesmerizing…While there are scenes of tension and intrigue…the novel's mood remains elegiac rather than fraught, expressed through small tragedies…Roy is particularly adept at mining the emotional intricacies of the relationship between Maya and Diwan Sahib, which also serves to symbolize India's uneasy passage from tradition to modernity.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Audio
In the Himalayas of northern India, Maya—whose husband recently died in a mountain-climbing accident—travels to the small town of Ranikhet to assume a teaching position and find solace. There she begins to teach a peasant named Charu to read and write—an effort to help the young girl secretly communicate with her lover, a cook employed in Delhi. But Maya’s efforts to find peace are quickly disrupted—by her past, an unexpected love affair, local politics, and sectarian violence. This audio edition is skillfully performed by Sneha Mathan, whose narration is crisp, engaging, and even slightly soothing. She creates a host of unique voices for the book’s characters, employing appropriate accents and dialects, deepening her voice for male characters, and ably capturing the essence of the diverse cast. A Free Press paperback. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly
After her husband, Michael, dies in a mountain-climbing mishap, Maya flees to the tiny Himalayan town of Ranikhet to escape her past and find peace. While teaching English at a Christian school, she befriends her teenage neighbor and milk delivery girl, Charu, whose lover, Kundan, has recently left the village to work in Delhi. Though he sends Charu letters, she cannot read or write. Maya takes on the role of interlocutor initially, but soon begins teaching Charu so that she can continue the epistolary romance on her own. Meanwhile, Maya finds herself caught up in an unexpected love affair with her landlord’s nephew, Veer. Though she has acclimated well to life in the village (“I became a hill person who was only at peace where the earth rose and fell in waves like the sea”), the premature death of her husband still haunts her. Veer seems to be the key to overcoming her grief, but revelations of his past threaten the emotional enclave Maya has fashioned for herself in the lush Indian hills. Similar to the pace of life in the village, Roy’s follow-up to An Atlas of Impossible Longing is occasionally slow going but her musical writing and strong imagery compensate, and individual moments sparkle. (Apr.)
The Economist Crossword Fiction Award Committee
Winner of The Economist Crossword Fiction Award 2011

"How does a writer compete against the media's invasion of public discourse in all its chattering, hectoring, commercially packaged format. One way could be by creating a small, inviolable space in which to observe and record all the subterranean upheavals to create those moments of clarity that we value as literature. The small diamond that we have unearthed and enjoyed is called The Folded Earth."

Elle
International Praise for The Folded Earth:

“[Roy’s] narrative is poised and her language precise and poetic, without being flamboyant . . . a story about love and hate, continuity and change, loss and grief in a convincing and memorable setting.”
The Independent

“Anuradha’s ability to seamlessly place the private lives of her characters within a larger socio-political setting is what she carries into her second book [as well] . . . at the end of The Folded Earth you feel a firm belief in the redemptive qualities of life and love.”

Daily Mail
“A gently perceptive story, half comic and half poignant, of a woman’s struggle to forget her sorrows in new surroundings.”
The Sunday Times

“Tight with life. . . .Roy’s attention to individual words pays off as she conveys the full texture of experiences. . . . Even minor characters are evoked with inventive idiosyncrasy.”

DNA
"The Folded Earth is pure pleasure, that old fashioned sort of novel in which one can immerse oneself; an absolute treat."
Business World

“Eminently readable, a literary novel that feels timeless and authentic.”

The Deccan Herald
“Roy has an admirably restrained style and her novel offers a vivid evocation of North India. She conjures up striking images with the lightest of touches.”
The Tatler

"A jewel of a story."

Country and Town House Magazine
“[A] deeply unsettling but beautiful novel . . . utterly enrapturing. . . . As always, Roy’s writing remains gently poignant and metaphoric throughout, every vignette and scenario she constructs feels multilayered and deeply meaningful.”
For Books' Sake

“A perfect treat . . . Roy brings her characters vividly and amusingly to life.”

Biblio
“There is a gentle perfection to the way Roy writes. . . . A beautiful love story. . . . about people who love and long—impossibly?—and love again.”
The Hindu

“Anuradha Roy’s second novel demands that the reader pause, slow down, savour this work. . . . I hear echoes of Anita Brookner and Edna O’Brien and other writers like them as Roy brings Maya and her travails to life.”

The Washington Post
Praise for An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy:

“Every once in a great while, a novel comes along to remind you why you rummage through shelves in the first place. . . . [A]s you slip into the book’s pages, you sense you are entering a singular creation. . . . And then, suddenly, you are swept away. . . . This, you think, is the feeling you had as you read Great Expectations or Sophie's Choice or The Kite Runner. This is why you read fiction at all.”

From the Publisher
“Roy’s prose does not hit a single wrong note: its restrained beauty sings off the page.” —Neel Mukherjee, Time Magazine

“Refreshing. . . . [Roy] defines her characters quickly and skillfully, she has a keen eye for landscape, and she knows how private lives can suggest the larger shape of the public world.” —The New York Times

“Set in mid-twentieth-century India, this debut novel spans generations and political upheavals, [chronicling] both the strength of domestic bonds and the wounds that parents and children, and husbands and wives, inflict on each other.” —The New Yorker

“Epic. . . . [a] gorgeous, sweeping novel.” —Ms Magazine

“Impressive. . . . With her rich imagination, vivid descriptions, and skillful handling of events. . . . Roy weaves a tapestry of family life in India. . . . the story and characters stay with the reader for a long time. Roy is a writer to watch.” —The SeattleTimes

“Roy’s prose soars with a lyricism that can take your breath away. . . . From her whirlwind opening sentences, readers know they’re in for a ride.” —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“A novel to convince us that boldly drawn sagas with larger-than-life characters are still possible in a relentlessly postmodern world. . . . A sprawling epic of love, class and ambition.” —Denver Post

“An incandescently evocative debut novel filled with wrenching tragedy as well as abiding passion.” —Booklist

“[Roy] is a fabulous storyteller with a true gift for transporting the reader right into the heat, smells, and sights of India. . . . a poetic novel easily read again and again. A complete success and an excellent choice for a discussion group.” —Library Journal

“Roy’s impressive American debut. . . the sounds, smells, and feel of Bengal come vividly to life. Cultures may differ, but longing and love are universal.” —Publishers Weekly

"In An Atlas of Impossible Longing, Anuradha Roy bravely explores love, the caste system, and familial lines in a vivid portrait of war-stricken twentieth-century India. This absorbing story defies prediction. Roy’s grace and mesmerizing language stayed with me long after I closed the book.” —Katie Crouch, author of Girls in Trucks

“A novel of beauty, poignancy, and gut-churning suspense. . . . A lyrical love letter to India’s past—an India of innocent child brides and jasmine-scented summer evenings. . . . Poetic and evocative, Roy’s writing is a joy.” —Financial Times

“Deftly and sensitively narrated.”—The Independent

"A story to lose yourself in.. . . Anuradha Roy is a wonderful writer. . . . this tale of three generations of an Indian family, set over the span of the 20th century, is brilliantly told [and] intensely moving." —Sunday Express

“Roy’s novel is engaging from start to finish and difficult to put down.”—The Sunday Sun

"Recalls classics from Great Expectations to The Cherry Orchard. . . . Roy's prose is luscious yet economical. Capturing the rhythms of life in rural backwater and big city alike, she strings together jewel-like episodes. . . . giving her story the quality of something remembered." —The National Newspaper

“Now here is a perfect monsoon read: an exquisitely-written first novel that flows limpid and elegiac. . . . you might find yourself unbearably moved by her delicate probing of the fragility of love and longing.”—India Today

Country and Town HouseMagazine
“[A] deeply unsettling but beautiful novel . . . utterly enrapturing. . . . As always, Roy’s writing remains gently poignant and metaphoric throughout, every vignette and scenario she constructs feels multilayered and deeply meaningful.”
For Books' Sake

“A perfect treat . . . Roy brings her characters vividly and amusingly to life.”

Library Journal
A young widow moves to a remote Himalayan village, wishing to escape the trappings of modernity.
Library Journal - Audio
Roy's second book, which won the 2011 Hindu Literary Prize, is set in a modern India superimposed with a patina of benign nostalgia for the Raj. Widowed early and unable to escape memories of her dead husband, Maya finds a job as a teacher and factory supervisor at a Christian school in Ranikhet. Although she meets new people, memories of the past occupy her thoughts, especially when she is drawn into the romance of a local girl and a cook who moves with his employer to another town. Even a possible new romance cannot break the hold of her old life when surrounded by people for whom the past and present are equally significant. VERDICT The narrative is lyrical and languid and is well served by Sneha Mathan, an AudioFile Earphones Award recipient. Each of the numerous characters has a different timbre and accent, making them distinct. Recommend to fans of E.M. Forster, Paul Scott, and other writers of modern Indian fiction.—Susanne B. Roush, Seminole, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Gentle comedy, bitter tragedy and grief intertwine in an affectionately delineated portrait of an Indian hill community. While ostensibly offering a leisurely exploration of the town of Ranikhet in the foothills of the Himalayas, Roy (An Atlas of Invisible Longing, 2011) has achieved something larger, a poem to the natural world and its relentless displacement by the developed one. Maya, a young widow whose husband Michael died trekking in the mountains, has come here to be near where his body was found and to teach at a local school. Her landlord, Diwan Sahib, a retired man of influence, is rumored to own a cache of valuable letters between Edwina Mountbatten and Nehru. This secret passion is mirrored in two contemporary romances, Maya's liaison with Diwan's nephew Veer and the love between illiterate hill girl Charu and a cook. Roy pulls politics, society, ecological warning and history into her slow, episodic story, but it's her love for the creatures, landscapes and eternal beauty of this place that inspire it. Finally events gather speed after an act of petty spite against a neighbor and his pet, culminating in death, a terrible discovery and an act of shattering revenge. Despite an occasional sense of drift, this understated, finely observed book expresses a haunting vision. A writer to watch.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611207767
Publisher:
Dreamscape Media
Publication date:
06/28/2012
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

one

The girl came at the same hour, summer or winter. Every morning, I heard her approach. Plastic slippers, the clink of steel on stone. And then her footsteps, receding. That morning she was earlier. The whistling thrushes had barely cleared their throats, and the rifle range across the valley had not yet sounded its bugles. And, unlike every other day, I did not hear her leave after she had set down my daily canister of milk.

She did not knock or call out. She was waiting. All went quiet in the blueness before sunlight. Then the soothing early morning mutterings of the neighborhood began: axes struck wood, dogs tried out their voices, a rooster crowed, wood-smoke crept in through my open window. My eyelids dipped again and I burrowed deeper into my blanket. I woke only when I heard the General walking his dog, reproaching it for its habitual disobedience, as if after all these years it still baffled him. “What is the reason, Bozo?” he said, in his loud voice. “Bozo, what is the reason?” He went past every morning at about six thirty, which meant that I was going to be late unless I ran all the way.

I scrabbled around, trying to organize myself—make coffee, find the clothes I would wear to work, gather the account books I needed to take with me—and the milk for my coffee billowed and foamed out of the pan and over the stove before I could reach it. The mess would have to wait. I picked up things, gulping my coffee in between. It was only when I was lacing my shoes, crouched one-legged by the front door, that I saw her out of the corner of an eye: Charu, waiting for me still, drawing circles at the foot of the steps with a bare toe.

Charu, a village girl just over seventeen, lived next door. She had every hill person’s high cheekbones and skin, glazed pink with sunburn. She would forget to comb her hair till late in the day, letting it hang down her shoulders in two disheveled braids. Like most hill people, she was not tall, and from the back she could be mistaken for a child, thin and small-boned. She wore hand-me-down salwar kameezes too big for her, and in place of a diamond she had a tiny silver stud in her nose. All the same, she exuded the reserve and beauty of a princess of Nepal—even if it took her only a second to slide back into the awkward teenager I knew. Now, when she saw I was about to come out, she stood up in a hurry, stubbing her toe against a brick. She tried to smile through the pain as she mouthed an inaudible “namaste” to me.

I realized then why she had waited so long for me. I ran back upstairs and picked up a letter that had come yesterday. It was addressed to me, but when I opened it, I had found it was for Charu. I stuffed it into my pocket and stepped out of the front door.

My garden was just an unkempt patch of hillside, but it rippled with wildflowers on this blue and gold morning. Teacup-sized lilies charged out of rocks and drifting scraps of paper turned into white butterflies when they came closer. Everything smelled damp, cool, and fresh from the light rain that had fallen at dawn, the first after many hot days. I felt myself slowing down, the hurry draining away. I was late anyway. What difference did a few more minutes make? I picked a plum and ate it, I admired the butterflies, I chatted of this and that with Charu.

I said nothing of the letter. I felt a perverse curiosity about how she would tell me what she wanted. More than once, I heard her draw breath to speak, but she either thought better of it or came up with, “It has rained after three weeks dry.” And then, “The monkeys ate all the peaches on our tree.”

I took pity on her and produced the letter from my pocket. It had my address and name, written in Hindi in a large, childish hand.

“Do you want me to read it for you?” I said.

“Yes, alright,” she said. She began to fiddle with a rose, as if the letter were not important, yet darted glances in its direction when she thought I was not looking. Her face was transformed by relief and happiness. “My friend Charu,” the letter said:

How are you? How is your family? I hope all are well. I am well. Today is my tenth day in Delhi. From the first day I looked for a post office to buy an inland letter. It is hard to find places here. It is a very big city. It has many cars, autorickshaws, buses. Sometimes there are elephants on the street. This city is so crowded that my eyes cannot go beyond the next house. I feel as if I cannot breathe. It smells bad. I remember the smells of the hills. Like when the grass is cut. You cannot hear any birds here, or cows or goats. But the room Sahib has given me is good. It is above the garage for the car. It faces the street. When I am alone at the end of the day’s cooking, I can look out at everything. I get more money now. I am saving for my sister’s dowry and to pay off my father’s loan. Then I can do my heart’s desire. Send me a print of your palm in reply. That will be enough for me. I will write again.

Your friend.

“Who is it from?” I asked Charu. “Do you know someone in Delhi, or is this a mistake?”

“It’s from a friend,” she said. She would not meet my eyes. “A girl. Her name is Sunita.” She hesitated before adding: “I told her to send my letters to you because—the postman knows your house better.” She turned away. She must have known how transparent was her lie.

I handed her the letter. She snatched it and was halfway up the slope leading from my house to hers before I had closed my fist. “I thought I taught you to say thank you,” I called after her. She paused. The breeze fluttered through her dupatta as she stood there, irresolute, then ran down the slope back to me. She spoke so quickly her words ran into each other: “If I bring you extra milk every day . . . will you teach me how to read and write?”

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
A 2012 Best Fiction & Classics Audiobook. Earphones Award Winner. "Roy's tender story creates a sensory experience for listeners, and Mathan's narration embraces its exquisite surroundings and inventive characters." - AudioFile Magazine A Listen Up Award Fiction Winner, and Listen Up Audiobook of the Year. Starred Review. "This audio edition is skillfully performed by Sneha Mathan, whose narration is crisp, engaging, and even slightly soothing. She creates a host of unique voices for the book's characters, employing appropriate accents and dialects, deepening her voice for male characters, and ably capturing the essence of the diverse cast." - Publishers Weekly (audio review)
Starred Review. "This elegiacal novel of love, loss and personal identity is a stunning achievement for this rising star of Indian literary fiction." - Shelf Awareness
"Roy is particularly adept at mining the emotional intricacies of the relationship between Maya and Diwan Sahib, which also serves to symbolize India's uneasy passage from tradition to modernity." - The New York Times
"Gentle comedy, bitter tragedy and grief intertwine in an affectionately delineated portrait of an Indian hill community...this understated, finely observed book expresses a haunting vision. A writer to watch." - Kirkus Reviews
"Roy's vivid evocations of the Himalayan landscape, her affection for outcasts, and her skepticism toward those who make the rules inform this subtle, funny, and ultimately hopeful novel that reminds us of the importance of everyday kindness - a truth that will resonate no matter where you call home." - Marie Claire
"Roy has written a carefully observed story of separation, loss and resourcefulness...reminiscent of the great R.K. Narayan's poignant tales of rural India. But what defines Roy's talent is her elegant marriage of psychology and nature." - Ms. Magazine
"...truly beautiful...like going into a dream, so poetic and evocative is Anuradha Roy's prose. It is also a profound record of social history, beautifully told as a heartwarming story. A worthy successor to her previous novel." - Red Magazine
"A perfect treat...Roy brings her characters vividly and amusingly to life." - Country and Town House Magazine
"The Folded Earth is pure pleasure, that old fashioned sort of novel in which one can immerse oneself; an absolute treat." - Business World

Meet the Author

Anuradha Roy is the author of An Atlas of Impossible Longing, which has been published in sixteen countries and named by World Literature Today as one of the sixty most essential books on modern India. She lives in India.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Folded Earth 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago