Impressionist by Hari Kunzru
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By Hari Kunzru

The Impressionist

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Format: Paperback

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Impressionist by Hari Kunzru

Book Awards

  • Winner of Somerset Maugham Award 2003.
  • Winner of Betty Trask Award 2002.
  • Shortlisted for Whitbread Book Awards: First Novel Category 2002.
  • Shortlisted for Whitbread Prize (First Novel) 2002.

Book Description

The Impressionist is Hari Kunzru's sweeping novel of India, empire and identity. In India, at the birth of the last century, an infant is brought howling into the world, his remarkable paleness marking him out from his brown-skinned fellows. Revered at first, he is later cast out from his wealthy home when his true parentage is revealed. So begins Pran Nath's odyssey of self-discovery - a journey that will take him from the streets of Agra, via the red light district of Bombay, to the brick cloisters of Oxford and beyond - as he struggles to understand who he really is. "Delectable, sweeping, empire-savaging, audaciously playful...Kunzru writes with wry certitude and cinematic precision". (The New York Times). "Grand, sprawling, extravagant, lyrical...A work so vibrant and richly imagined that you can smell the incense". (Esquire). "Epic in scale and rich in historical detail ...the narrative is deft and swift ...carrying the reader along effortlessly. This first novel has startling depth, ambition and craftmanship". (Time Out). Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions and Gods Without Men, and the story collection Noise. He lives in New York.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780141008288
ISBN-10: 0141008288
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 31mm)
Pages: 496
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 3-Apr-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...

Books By Author Hari Kunzru

Null Object by Hari Kunzru Null Object, Paperback (December 2012)

Discusses the project where London Fieldworks produced 3D shape information from EEG readings of renowned artist Gustav Metzger's brainwaves as he attempted to think about nothing. This data was translated into instructions for a manufacturing robot, which carved out the shapes from the interior of a block of stone to create a void space.

Transmission by Hari Kunzru Transmission, Paperback (June 2005)

It's the twenty-first century, and everything and everyone is connected. Meet Arjun Mehta, an Indian cybergeek catapulted into California's spiralling hi-tech sector; Leela Zahir, beguiling Bollywood actress filming in the midge-infested Scottish wilds; and Guy Swift, hyped-up marketing exec lost in a blue-sky tomorrow of his own devising.

» View all books by Hari Kunzru


UK Kirkus Review » This is an astonishingly rich and complex story. Kunzru's writing is so confident, and his plot so audacious, that it is hard to believe that this is his first novel. It seems a lazy comparison to draw parallels with Salman Rushdie, but the colourful streetlife of Bombay at the turn of the 20th century forms the same kind of compelling backdrop as Partition-era India does in Midnight's Children. Pran Nath, son and heir to a wealthy money-lender, is brought up in luxury, his pale skin a sign of his superior caste. However, a secret known only to his opium-addicted mother, who died in labour, and one of the servants, is that his real father was English, and that he was conceived at the height of a cataclysmic rainstorm, explaining his doom-laden astrological chart. Cast from the household in shame, Pran sets out on a sequence of fantastical, if nightmarish adventures, from being sold to a pair of eunuch prostitutes to a key role, dressed as a young girl, in the court of a squabbling pair of royal brothers. Revealing how he resurfaces in the red-light district of Bombay as Pretty Bobby, fixer extraordinaire, and ends up studying at Oxford would give away the most outrageous twist in the book. The final chapter, in which he journeys to Africa as part of an anthropological expedition after being rejected by his bohemian girlfriend for being 'too white', does strain the reader's credibility, but you forgive Kunzru for a slightly ambitious overreach on the grounds of his vivid writing and interesting characterization. Pran's many transformations raise many questions about racial and gender identities, but Kunzru makes his point in an entertaining rather than didactic way, and any political subtext in the book - the decadent last days of the Raj and the rise of political discontent in the slums are themes - is secondary to the sheer joie de vivre of the exhilarating narrative. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Hari Kunzru

Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions and Gods Without Men, and the story collection Noise. He lives in New York and his next novel, White Tears, will be published by Hamish Hamilton in spring 2017.

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