The Circle of Reason, By Amitav Ghosh

An India that owes more to Dickens than to Rushdie
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The Independent Culture

The Circle of Reason, Amitav Ghosh's debut novel, was first published in 1986.

It is more accessible than, say Salman Rushdie, more Dickensian, full of sound and fury, and with a strong narrative. The Indian orphan Alu lives with his uncle, the ambitious and righteous Balaram, whose plans to help his village put him constantly in conflict with the village's corrupt chief, Bhudeb Roy. His uncle's plans anger Roy once too often, and in an eruption of violence one night, Balaram is killed. Alu must flee, leaving his love, Maya, behind. Although he's been overshadowed by his family until this point, his subsequent journey lets us see more of his character.