Finalist for the Crossword Book Award and the DSC South Asia Prize
"Kundalkar's first novel available in English is a unique and subtle exploration of heartbreak that succeeds in its translation."
"In his debut novel, Kundalkar combines two distinct and complementary voices to deliver a complex and intricate story about love, family, and making one's own path."
"I found the book's fragmentary, collage-like structure intriguing and original, as was Jerry Pinto's translation, and felt that here was a refreshing new voice for a new generation."
—Anita Desai, three-time Booker Prize nominee and author of Clear Light of Day, In Custody, and Baumgartner's Bombay
"A mesmerizing novel of heartbreak, memory, and the ease of falling in love set against the impossibility of fully knowing other people."
—Kamila Shamsie, author of Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows
"A mysterious and enigmatic tale of a homosexual Marathi brother and his rebellious sister, and an artsy renter who permeates their sexual lives unbeknown to either. A riveting read that haunted me."
—Bapsi Sidhwa, author of The Crow Eaters
"A finely wrought, lyrical debut novel about three young people who represent the changing mores of modern India. Told with a subdued intensity, Cobalt Blue reminds us that matters of the heart are mysterious, unpredictable and thrillingly unknowable."
—Thrity Umrigar, author of The Space Between Us and The Story Hour
"One of the most shocking and brilliantly worded stories of love. . . . The story will stick with you, and long after you read it, the novel will play on your mind, forcing you to revisit it from time to time."
—Andre Borges, "34 Books by Indian Authors That Everyone Should Read," Buzzfeed
"In the sense of navigating the inner world of an adolescent in the first person, Cobalt Blue may be considered a high-quality 'coming-of-age' novel. It also explores the discovery, resulting confusion, and bravado of homosexuality in a hostile environment. . . . This book could be read in one sitting, over the course of one enjoyable day. However, the impact of its characters and what we learn from them would last quite a while longer."
"This is a slim, sensual book written in a direct conversational style that makes for very pleasurable reading. I'm passionate about regional Indian fiction, and this unusual and important narrative, so controversial when it was first published many years ago, and the equal of which you won't find in Indian English, is one reason why."
—Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing
"Cobalt Blue is the kind of book that Franz Kafka called the 'axe for the frozen sea within us' . . . this novel, with its complex narrative design and daring imagination, easily surpasses most English-language fiction that has appeared in India so far this year."
"Cobalt Blue reads like a love song . . . Kundalkar's writing is masterful in its play of voice, capturing through his characters the claustrophobia of a small town, their longing to escape a middle class existence, and how love, and being in love, has the ability to transform every small detail from the mundane to the magnificent."
A lodger causes fissures in the relationship between a brother and sister when both find themselves drawn to him in this atmospheric novel.The scope and setting of Kundalkar's novel are intentionally intimate and restrained: over the course of this short book, he establishes a comfortable domestic milieu and then introduces the element that will lead to its disruption. Each of the two main characters narrates approximately half of the novel: first, Tanay tells a story of his desire for the boarder who has come to live in his family's home in Pune, in western India. What follows in the second half is his sister Anuja's account, told in a diaristic fashion and providing a different perspective on the same events. Tanay addresses his portion of the novel to the unseen boarder, and each half of the novel meticulously establishes the presence of a fundamentally unknowable figure, an agent of change who offers the idealized promise of a different way of life. Throughout the novel, a claustrophobic sense of confinement and obligation battles it out with the prospect of something more freeing. But even that can come with its own flaws, both for those who opt to take it and those who are left behind. There are certain moments where the approach feels heavy-handed: in the English translation, the fact that one minor character, a lawyer, is named "Mr Dixit" borders on the allegorical. It's one of the few moments in this novel where the mood isn't understated. The strength of Kundalkar's work here is in how lived-in it feels—both the setting and the lives of its two protagonists. This novel neatly establishes an emotionally complex situation and presents its characters with difficult decisions to quiet but devastating effect.