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Published on: 10/25/18 11:55 AM

Book review: Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup (HarperCollins Books). 

What an assured debut!

Shubhangi Swarup`s Latitudes of Longing is in one short succinct word, astonishing.

Writing like a geologist with a magic pen, Swarup spins a story that at its core, is a love story to the mountains, to the sea, to the earth and the sky.

All her characters settle into the readers` consciousness with a thump: the scientist Girija Prasad, his wife Chanda Devi is a clairvoyant who communes with the multitude of ghosts that crowd the Andaman islands where they live. The stoic but suffering Mary and her son Plato, political prisoner of the junta   in Burma/Myanmar. Thapa and Bagmati swapping haunting tales in Kathmandu. Rana the geologist up in the glacier and the unlikely if wholly charming courting couple Apo and Ghazala in the Karakoram mountains.

Through these people,  we get to take  a close look at the rocks, the fossils, the trees and the churn of the oceans; we watch and gauge the extent of the damage inflicted by quakes, storms  and tsunamis, and of course, by humans.  Ultimately, the focus is fixed on the lands that sit on tectonic fault-lines, and that focus never shifts too far. If you need one reason to read the book, read it for the poignant tale of the shape-shifting turtle and her son.

Like I said, magical.

Other Andaman articles of mine:

Travel: Andaman Islands

Travel: Ross Island, Andamans

Book review: The Last Wave by Pankaj Sekhsaria

Andamansbook reviewfictionjuntaKarakoramLadakhLatitudes of LongingMyanmarnovelShubhangi Swarup

Sheila Kumar • October 25, 2018

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