Githa Hariharan has written novels, short fiction and essays over the last three decades. Her highly acclaimed work includes The Thousand Faces of Night which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in 1993, the short story collection The Art of Dying, the novels The Ghosts of Vasu Master, When Dreams Travel, In Times of Siege and Fugitive Histories, and a collection of essays entitled Almost Home: Cities and Other Places. For more on this Delhi-based author and her work, visit www.githahariharan.com
What makes a fanatic? A fundamentalist? What makes communities that have lived together for years suddenly discover a hatred for each other?
New Delhi, in the year 2000. Staff meetings, lesson modules, a half-hearted little affair with a colleague-this is the bland but comfortable life of Shiv Murthy, a history teacher in an open university. But disruption and change are on their way-an outspoken young woman with a broken knee comes into his life and turns it upside-down; then Hindu zealots attack his writings on Basava, the reformer-poet. When fundamentalism lands on his own doorstep, Shiv discovers that the ideas he has inherited-about history, nations and patriots-are liable to shrink day by day. The time of siege is not exclusively Indian-prejudice speaks different languages but has the same destructive message: 'Only trust those of your kind.' With love, lust and a perverted nationalism at his heels, Shiv is forced to confront the demands of his times and choose a direction for the future. But first, he must come to terms with his own incomplete past, his fears, and his obsession with a woman who will give him the strength he seeks.