Co-presented with Greenlight Bookstore, Siddhartha Deb discusses his long-anticipated new novel, The Light at the End of the World, with Nishant Batsha. Connecting India’s tumultuous 19th and 20th centuries to its distant past and its potentially apocalyptic future, this sweeping tale of rebellion, courage, and brutality reinvents fiction for our time.
Delhi, the near future: Bibi, a low-ranking employee of a global consulting firm, is tasked with finding a man long thought to be dead but who now appears to be the source of a vast collection of documents. The trove purports to reveal the secrets of the Indian government, including detention centers, mutated creatures, engineered viruses, experimental weapons, and alien wrecks discovered in remote mountain areas.
Bhopal, 1984: an assassin tracks his prey through an Indian city that will shortly be the site of the worst industrial disaster in the history of the world.
Calcutta, 1947: a veterinary student’s life and work connect him to an ancient Vedic aircraft that might stave off genocide.
And in 1859, a British soldier rides with his detachment to the Himalayas in search of the last surviving leader of an anti-colonial rebellion.
These timelines interweave to form a kaleidoscopic, epic novel in which each protagonist must come to terms with the buried truths of their times as well as with the parallel universe that connects them all, through automatons, spirits, spacecraft, and aliens. The Light at the End of the World, Siddhartha Deb’s first novel in fifteen years, is a magisterial work of shifting forms, expanding the possibilities of fiction while bringing to life the India of our times.
Siddhartha Deb was born in northeastern India and lives in Harlem, New York. He is the author of the novels The Point of Return, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and An Outline of the Republic, longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. His nonfiction book, The Beautiful and the Damned, was a finalist for the Orwell Prize and received the PEN Open award. Deb’s journalism and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, n+1, The Nation, and Dissent.
Photo credit Nina Subin
Nishant Batsha is the author of the novel Mother Ocean Father Nation (ecco, 2022), a 2022 NPR Books We Love pick, and the forthcoming A Bomb Placed Close to the Heart (ecco, 2025). A writer of fiction and history, his writing has appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Narrative, The Believer, and more.
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