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An adventure brimming with colour, energy and humour -- the acclaimed debut novel from the author of White Tears This is the extraordinary story of a child conceived in a wild monsoon night, a boy destined to be an outsider, a man with many names and no name. Born into luxury but disinherited and cast out onto the streets of Agra, Pran Nath must become a chameleon. Chasing his fortune, he will travel from the red light district of Bombay to the green lawns of England to the unmapped African wilderness. He will play many different roles -- a young prize in a brothel, the adopted son of Scottish missionaries, the impeccably educated young Englishman headed for Oxford -- in order to find the role that will finally fit. Daring and riotously inventive, The Impressionist is an odyssey of self-discovery: a tale of the many lives one man can live and of the universal search for true identity.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780141008288
ISBN-10: 0141008288
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 30mm)
Pages: 496
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 3-Apr-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


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.

Books By Author Hari Kunzru

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears

Hardback, April 2017
Hard to Be a God by Hari Kunzru

Hard to Be a God

Paperback / softback, June 2014
Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

Gods Without Men

Paperback / softback, January 2013
Null Object by Hari Kunzru

Null Object

Paperback, December 2012