A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee
A Novel

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Above all there is compassion here, alongside a focus that depicts gross inequities with a grim tenderness. A calm, compelling, unshrinking portrait of humanity in transition; both disturbing and dazzling.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

What happens when one attempts to exchange the life one is given for something better? Can we transform the possibilities we are born into?


In this stunning novel, prize-winning author Neel Mukherjee wrests open the central, defining events of our century: displacement and migration. Five characters, in very different circumstances—from a domestic cook in Mumbai, to a vagrant and his dancing bear, to a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city—find out the meanings of dislocation and the desire for more.


Set in contemporary India and moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel of multiple narratives—formally daring, fierce, but full of pity—delivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life.

 

About Neel Mukherjee

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Neel Mukherjee was born in Calcutta. His first novel, A Life Apart, won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for best fiction, among other honors. He lives in London.
 
Published January 2, 2018 by W. W. Norton & Company. 276 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A State of Freedom
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Oct 11 2017

Above all there is compassion here, alongside a focus that depicts gross inequities with a grim tenderness. A calm, compelling, unshrinking portrait of humanity in transition; both disturbing and dazzling.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Hamilton Cain on Jan 12 2018

His India is a lush kaleidoscope, but one with sharp edges, mysterious shadows, vanishing crowds — a touch of surrealism pervades “A State of Freedom,” as in a De Chirico painting.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michael Gorra on Jan 19 2018

A book that begins in homage remains then a bit narrow when set against its model. But it’s a mark of Neel Mukherjee’s range and force and ambition that any lesser comparison would seem an injustice.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Anthony Cummins on Jul 09 2017

Neel Mukherjee’s bleak and beautifully written third novel offers five loosely connected scenes from modern India.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Andrew Motion on Jun 30 2017

One of the most dynamic aspects of Mukherjee’s flawed but vital novel is that even while facing up to unhappiness it continues to show an affirming flame.

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The Economist

Good
on Jun 29 2017

He is too subtle to note these contrasts explicitly. Rather he does what good novelists should, which is to hold up a mirror to society and remind people that what passes for normal is often barbaric. His quiet observation is effective—and damning.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Jan 04 2018

A State of Freedom is a marvel of a book, shocking and beautiful, and it proves that Mukherjee is one of the most original and talented authors working today.

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