Details

ISBN-10: 1632062534
ISBN-13: 9781632062536
Publisher: Restless Books
Publish Date: 04/12/2022
Dimensions: 8.20" L, 5.50" W, 1.50" H

The City of Good Death

Paperback

Price: $19.00

Overview

Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Priyanka Champaneri’s transcendent, prize-winning debut novel brings us inside India’s holy city of Banaras, where the manager of a death hostel shepherds the dying who seek the release of a good death, while his own past refuses to let him go.

As the dutiful manager of a death hostel in Banaras on the banks of the Ganges, Pramesh Prasad administers to dying Hindu pilgrims who hope to be released from earthly reincarnation. He lives and works contentedly with his wife, Shobha, their young daughter, Rani, the hostel priests, his hapless but winning assistant Mohan, and the constant flow of families with their dying kin. But one day the past arrives in the form of a body pulled from the river–a man with an uncanny resemblance to Pramesh.

Called “twins” in their childhood village, he and his cousin Sagar are inseparable until Pramesh leaves to see the outside world and Sagar stays to tend the land. After Pramesh marries Shobha, defying his family’s wishes, a rift opens between the cousins that he has willed himself to forget. Yet for Shobha, Sagar’s reemergence casts a shadow over the life she’s built for her family. Soon, an unwelcome guest takes up residence in the death hostel, the dying mysteriously continue to live, and Pramesh is forced to confront his own ideas about death, rebirth, and redemption.

Told in lush, vivid detail and with an unforgettable cast of characters, The City of Good Death is a remarkable debut novel of family and love, memory and ritual, and the ways in which we honor the living and the dead.

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Reviews

Praise for The City of Good Death:

"In Champaneri's ambitious, vivid debut, the dying come to the holy city of Kashi to die a good death that frees them from the burden of reincarnation.... In sharp prose, Champaneri explores the power of stories–those the characters tell themselves, those told about them, and those they believe.... This epic, magical story of death teems with life."

Publishers Weekly

"Throughout this epic, Champaneri remains attuned to ... atmospheric details, both physical and emotional.... The novel pays particular attention to the topographies of mourning.... [It] remains an intimate portrait of Pramesh, and yet the other characters allow Champaneri to articulate how grief and healing are social processes.... Just as grief descends, sudden and sweeping, so too can wonder and joy."

–Spencer Quong, The New York Times Book Review

"Brimming with characters whose lives overlap and whose stories interweave, Champaneri's exquisite debut delves into the consequences of the past, and how stories that are told can become reality even when they contain barely a shred of truth. As Pramesh discovers, the bitterness of past wounds can bring hope for redemption and life."

–Bridget Thoreson, Booklist

"The City of Good Death, winner of the 2018 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing ... displays an earnest attempt at vividly capturing the life of the characters and of Kashi through the author's lush and evocative prose.... [O]ne starts reading The City of Good Death, diving into its wonderful descriptive passages that bring to life the ancient city of Kashi and its age-old customs and rituals, the conglomeration of devotees, the constantly bustling streets, and the holy river Ganga. Within this landscape, Champaneri weaves the threads of her story about the living and the dead, love and mourning.... Through these interconnected threads, Champaneri's sprawling novel delicately navigates the relations of life and death, childhood and memory, love, hate, friendship, human bonding, and relationships that are beyond human understanding.... Wonderful images – languid mornings over Ganga, bustling bazaars, the awkward seriousness of the death hostel, the green fields of Pramesh's village, crowded railway carriages – pervade this voluminous work."

–Suparno Banerjee, Los Angeles Review of Books

"The City of Good Death is the debut novel of Priyanka Champaneri but it has the confidence of a master storyteller. Drawing on the rich literary traditions of Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, Champaneri's epic saga will satisfy armchair travelers thirsty for adventure, and sick of looking out their windows."

Chicago Review of Books

"What follows is an astounding mystery in which nothing cooperates as it should–not even the dead.... As the city stirs with gossip and intrigue, Pramesh and Shobha deal with hauntings of all kinds, their stories weaving around one another to reveal the intersection of love and grief, and perhaps even illuminating some of the mysteries of the Land of the Dead."

The Arkansas International

"In her award-winning debut, Priyanka Champaneri examines this kind of "good death" through stories crammed within stories. Characters share folklore, myth, reminiscences or dreams, and all of these deeply alter their existence and relationships. Making full use of the mysticism and magnetism of Kashi, Champaneri's precise and evocative prose immerses us in a city teeming with as much life as death."

– Jenny Bhatt, NPR Best Books of 2021

In intricate detail and with remarkable skill, Champaneri writes a powerful tale about the pull of the past and our aching need to understand the mysteries and misunderstandings that thwart our relationships. An atmospheric and immersive debut with a rich cast of characters you won't soon forget.

–Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop

"Priyanka Champaneri beautifully explores the sacred and the afterlife in this cinematic and emotionally gripping work about living and dying with dignity.... The City of Good Death confronts family, religion, and belonging in ways that reflect Champaneri's cultural dualities. It's a novel full of compassion as Champaneri deftly navigates Pramesh's relationships with his dying patrons as he himself struggles to understand the ramifications of his cousin's death.... This ambitious novel offers readers a unique insight into the Hindu concepts of the afterlife and the sacred, and the universally recognizable desire for empathy and understanding."

–Téa Obreht and Ilan Stavans, from the Judges' Citation for the 2018 Restless Books Prize in New Immigrant Writing

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Details

ISBN-10: 1632062534
ISBN-13: 9781632062536
Publisher: Restless Books
Publish Date: 04/12/2022
Dimensions: 8.20" L, 5.50" W, 1.50" H
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