Nampally Road
Meena Alexander
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

The story of the book focuses on the experiences and perception of the central character, Mira Kannadical. After four years as a student in England, Mira returns to India to teach and write, hoping that ‘by writing a few poems . . . I could start to stitch it all together: my birth in India, a few years after national independence, my colonial education, my rebellion against the arranged marriage my mother had in mind for me, my years of research in England.’

But the India that Mira finds, teems with confusion and unrest. At the heart of this novel, is the gang rape of  Rameeza Be by the police. The towns people rise up and burn the police station. As the conflict between the townspeople and police reaches a boiling point, Mira realises that the unrest in the souls of Indian men and women is ‘too visible, too turbulent already to permit the kinds of writing I had once learnt to value.’ Turning from poetry, Mira looks to people around her to help define herself: Durgabai, practical and devoted to her patients; Old Swami Chari, preaching that this world’s sufferings are only an illusion; and her rebellious lover Ramu, urging her towards dangerous political action.

This novel has a powerful resonance with the recent tragic events in Delhi. When it was first published in 1991, it was a Voice Literary Supplement Editor’s Choice.

Haunting and lyrical, Nampally Road vividly portrays contemporary India and one woman’s struggle to piece together her past.

Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad. At eighteen she went to England to study. For several years she lived in Hyderabad, teaching in the English Department, Central University of Hyderabad, which was housed in the ‘Golden Threshold’, once upon a time the residence of Sarojini Naidu. Nampally Road, her first novel, comes out of that experience. Alexander is considered one of the foremost poets of her generation. Her works have been widely anthologised and translated and include Illiterate Heart (winner of the PEN Open Book Award), Quickly Changing River and the forthcoming Birthplace with Buried Stones. She has edited Indian Love Poems and published a critically acclaimed memoir, Fault Lines (picked as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the year). She was a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in literature from the South Asian Literary Association and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Most of the year she lives in New York where she is Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
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