The Bharat Party has come to power in India after an intensely divisive election. Naren, a jaded Wall Street consultant, is lured by its economic mandate to return to Mumbai. With him is Amanda, eager to escape her New England town through a teaching fellowship in a Muslim-majority slum. Meanwhile, Naren's younger brother Rohit sets out to explore his cultural roots in the country's heartland, where he ends up befriending the fiery young men who feed off the Hindu nationalist machine.
From identity politics to corporate avarice to the limits of idealism, each of these characters embodies a hypothesis. As they come to grips with the new India, they also become aware of a deeply fraught and complex milieu. The result is an ever-widening story that builds up to a festive night when all of Mumbai is on the streets, and the simmering unrest erupts.
Devika Rege's Quarterlifeis as much a social and philosophical inquiry as a political bildungsroman. It is also a brilliantly innovative and ambitious work that tests the limits of what the novel can achieve.