A New Novel by Jaspreet Singh ... on 1984
HELIUM, by Jaspreet Singh. Bloomsbury, 2012, hardcover, 256 pages. $22.15 (Amazon pre-order guaranteed price.] ISBN-10: 1408829169; ISBN-13: 978-1408829165
Jaspreet Singh's follow up to his earlier award-winning novel, Chef, wrestles with one of the most shocking moments in the history of the Indian nation: the massacre of the Sikh citizens enabled by the government after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
On November 1, 1984, a day after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination, a nineteen-year-old student travels back from a class trip to the northern regions of India with Professor Singh, his mentor, an expert on chemical elements and the man who introduced him to Primo Levi's The Periodic Table.
As the group disembark at Delhi station, a mob surrounds the professor, throws a tyre over him, douses him in petrol and sets him alight.
Even after moving to the United States, taking a post at Cornell University, marrying and having children, the student, Raj, finds that his past will not leave him alone. He is compelled to return home to find his professor's widow, the beautiful and enigmatic Nelly.
Working as a librarian in the crumbling Viceregal Lodge, Nelly has been attempting for years to bury herself under the archives of her country's colonial history. As the two walk through the misty mountains of Shimla painful memories emerge - of children fighting with bright red kites, yellow padlocks holding onto charred doorways and laboratory flames as purple as Jacaranda flowers.
But when Nelly comes up against a nation that refuses to remember, and Raj faces the distressing truth about his father's role in a genocidal pogrom, they both find that the path inexorably leads back to Delhi and to that train station.
Fusing documentary and fictional impulses, Helium deals with one of the most shocking moments in modern history: the massacre of thousand of innocent citizens organised, incited and enabled by the government of the land.
Jaspreet Singh has crafted an affecting and important story of memory, collective silences and personal trauma.
JASPREET SINGH - Bio
Jaspreet Singh is a novelist, essayist, short story writer, and a former research scientist. His debut story collection, Seventeen Tomatoes, won the 2004 Quebec First Book Prize. Chef, his first novel, received the Alberta Prize for Fiction, and was a finalist for four awards including the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book. Born in India, he moved to Canada in 1990. He lives in Toronto.
The book can be purchased at a special pre-released price from Amazon by CLICKING HERE.
August 20, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Rosalia (Baltimore, Maryland, USA), August 20, 2012, 8:52 PM.
Can't wait to read it!